Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz (left) hands the Air Force Space Command flag to Gen. William L. Shelton (right), as General Shelton becomes the 15th commander of AFSPC in a ceremony Jan. 5, 2011, at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Duncan Wood)
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) - Air Force Space Command members welcomed their new commander during a change of command ceremony Jan. 5.
Gen. William L. Shelton accepted command from Gen. Norton Schwartz, the chief of staff of the Air Force, in front of an audience of family members, community members and AFSPC members.
In General Schwartz's opening comments, he bid farewell to Gen. C. Robert Kehler, and welcomed General Shelton and his wife back to AFSPC and Colorado.
"General Kehler, you are well-prepared for the challenge of U.S. Strategic Command, and you are certainly deserving of this honor," General Schwartz said. "Suzie and I wish you and Marj all the best as you turn a new page in this exciting chapter for your family.
"As we look forward to the prospects of the New Year, we congratulate (General and Mrs. Shelton) on this very special occasion, as we welcome them back to Colorado where they have enjoyed a number of assignments over the years, including several here at Air Force Space Command," General Schwartz continued. "I've been in and out of Air Force Space Command since 1986, so to have the good fortune to come back to command this great organization is truly a special privilege," said General Shelton, upon acceptance of command.
He also recognized the role AFSPC members have in the security of the nation, as well as the public's reliance on the command.
"Your dedicated work in both the space and cyberspace arenas keeps this command in a prominent role in our national security," he said. "It is a unique command comprised of vast technical capability, both in operations and in acquisition, with assets across the globe and reaching deep into space. "
General Shelton said he desires to continue the tradition of excellence the command has built during its 28-year history.
"It's the spirit of teamwork, the willingness to listen to ideas other than our own, and the recognition of the important contributions of each and every member that makes this command hum," he said.
"I am extremely proud to be back with you as your commander, and I promise you my best efforts every day," he said. "I will likewise count on each of you to bring your best efforts every day, as I know you will. "
General Schwartz commended General Shelton on his past leadership endeavors and voiced his optimism for General Shelton's future in AFSPC.
"(General Shelton), you come with proven leadership and remarkable performance, most recently as the Air Force assistant vice chief of staff," General Schwartz said. "As you step into this new role, you indeed have very, very big shoes to fill. We are confident you will continue to excel. "General Shelton was also recognized by Brad Henry, the governor of Oklahoma, through an official proclamation naming January 5, 2011, as "General William L. Shelton Day," in the general's hometown in Oklahoma.
General Shelton entered the Air Force in 1976 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in astronautical engineering. Prior to assuming his current position, General Shelton was the assistant vice chief of staff and the director of the air staff at the Pentagon.
General Kehler, who had served as the commander of AFSPC since October 2007, will be the next commander of U. S. Strategic Command, located at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.
"General Kehler has left an enduring legacy since October of 2007," General Schwartz said. "His diligence and steady leadership helped assure the nation's access to and freedom of action in space. "
(Courtesy of Air Force Space Command Public Affairs)