OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - U.S. Strategic Command held a ceremony acknowledging Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright's relinquishment of command to Air Force Lt. Gen. C. Robert Kehler at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. , Friday. Kehler has assumed the duties of Commander, United States Strategic Command, until a new USSTRATCOM Commander is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
As military members and community leaders gathered in the humid, 75 degree weather on the parade field to say goodbye and bid well wishes to the STRATCOM leader of the past three years, Kehler offered his thoughts on behalf of the command.
""This is a bittersweet day for Strategic Command,"" he said. ""The men and women of this command are very, very proud of where you are headed and the job you are about to take on with a great deal of gusto. I am sure it will be with the same kind of intensity that you showed here. ""
As the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Cartwright is the second ranking member of the Armed Forces and replaces the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in his absence or disability as the principal military adviser to the President.
"It has been an honor to lead the men and women of U.S. Strategic Command,"" said Cartwright. ""This joint team of military and civilian members has continuously impressed me with their talent, professionalism and selfless dedication to duty. "
As USSTRATCOM commander, Cartwright was responsible for the global command and control of U.S. strategic forces to meet decisive national security objectives. The command is one of nine U.S. unified commands under the Department of Defense and provides a broad range of strategic capabilities and options for the President and Secretary of Defense.
""This has been a very tumultuous time as we are a nation at war,"" said Cartwright. ""Our forces are deployed all over the globe. The area of responsibility for this command starts at about 23,000 miles in space; hits every country and embassy in the world and the depths of the deepest parts of the ocean. ""
During Cartwright's tenure at the command, he carried out a significant role making notable changes within the command.
In 2005, his hands-on familiarity with technology led to the development of the Strategic Knowledge Integration Web, commonly known as the SKI Web. This 24-hour Web-based collaborative tool allows for interactive information sharing on a classified level. It operates on real time and is a virtual operation and intelligence meeting.
Also in 2005, Cartwright decided to delegate authority for operational and tactical level planning, force execution and day-to-day management of forces to Joint Functional Component Commands or JFCCs. The JFCCs further operationalize assigned missions and focus the command on strategic-level integration and advocacy of Unified Command Plan-assigned missions.
""Thank you for setting the condition in which this command can operate on a global scale day in and day out and know that our people are taken care of,"" said Cartwright. ""This is a wonderful place to live, a wonderful place where children can go to school and have a fond memory of it. ""
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced on July 24 that the President nominated Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton for appointment to the grade of general and assignment as commander, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Chilton is currently serving as commander, Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
Additional RoC photo