As Prepared − Edited for Clarity
Admiral Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) commander: Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, friends and family, men and women of Task Force 124 (TF 124) and Strategic Communications Wing One (SCW 1), good morning.
It is certainly an honor and privilege to be here with you on this very special, but bittersweet, day as we celebrate the spectacular career of U.S. Navy Capt. Brian McCormick; and witness his passing the torch of TF 124 and SCW 1 to U.S. Navy Capt. Edward McCabe in this time-honored change-of-command tradition.
This ceremony also provides an excellent opportunity to salute publicly the men and women of TF 124; and I have to tell you, the formation looks outstanding!
I thank you all − from the senior leaders to the most junior among you − for all you do, day in and day out for our nation.
I’d like to start by recognizing some of the most important people in both Brian’s and Edward’s lives.
Nancy [Capt. McCormick’s wife], you have been a constant source of strength for Brian during his military career and your 23 years of marriage. I know the military can be demanding on family life, especially with seven children, and that it often requires significant sacrifices. Thank you for standing beside him, both figuratively and literally, and for all you have done throughout his career.
Catherine, Emily, Christopher, Mary Clare, Joseph, Gerard and Margaret − I know as you all were growing up, that there were likely absences during some of your key milestones. Know that your love, support and understanding at times when your dad couldn’t be there contributed to his success. I know you are very proud of him, just as he is of all of you, and I am told that I would not want to encounter certain members of the McCabe family in a dark alley, as your Tae Kwon Do skills can lay an opponent flat. Seriously though, congratulations on making it to nationals earlier this year.
I also want to welcome Brian’s brothers, Kevin and Allan, who travelled all the way from Minnesota.
Jamie [Capt. McCabe’s wife], I also cannot thank you enough for all the tremendous support you’ve provided Edward over the years. While I know growing up a Navy brat, you came into the marriage with some understanding of what you were getting in to. Your support has helped get Edward where he is today.
Brandon, Ryan and Lauren − thank you for being here today to support your dad.
I would also like to salute Edward’s parents, Pete and Linda [McCabe], and in-laws, Ken and Jackie [Holt]. I know it means a lot to Edward to have you here with him today on this special occasion.
While the former commanders of SCW 1 in the audience today are well versed in the history and importance of this unit, I want to share just how important the mission of TF 124 is to our national security and USSTRATCOM’s deterrence mission with the rest of you.
The mission of TF 124 is predicated on the work of the U.S. Air Force’s EC-135, which flew the “Looking Glass” mission − a flying command post that mirrored Strategic Air Command’s (SAC) underground command post, and possessed the capacity to communicate with SAC forces worldwide, as well as launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.
This flying command post was always ready to assume control of SAC’s combat forces, in the event of a Soviet attack and destruction of our land-based command centers.
While the Looking Glass mission is a legacy of our nuclear command and control during the Cold War, USSTRATCOM continues to support our nation’s security throughout the spectrum of conflict by deterring strategic attack against the U.S. as we deal with a global security environment that is more complex, dynamic and volatile − perhaps more so than any time in our history − as state and non-state actors challenge our democratic values and our security in so many ways.
We still require the robust, enduring and survivable presence provided by TF 124 and the Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO)/SCW 1 mission. If deterrence fails, they not only provide survivable C2 (command and control), they also take the lead with the ability to bring America’s nuclear force to bear.
TF 124 is the primary backup to USSTRATCOM’s terrestrial nuclear command, control and communications; and in the event of crisis, they are responsible for providing survivable strategic communications between the president and strategic forces − as well as maintaining nuclear options for our senior leaders, should deterrence fail; the capacity to transmit emergency action messages to the strategic forces; logistical support in providing safe recovery bases for returning bombers and tankers; and ability to provide detailed analysis on nuclear radiation and fallout.
What an incredible responsibility this has been for Capt. Brian McCormack − one that he embraced with enthusiasm, skill, integrity and character.
Brian and TF 124 provided USSTRATCOM with the absolute best aircraft and crew during his tenure as commodore. Under his leadership, the E-6Bs were updated with the block-one modification; taking them from a 1980’s relic to a 21st century aircraft − all while maintaining a mission completion rate in excess of 99.9 percent. I bet Delta and Southwest wish they could boast that same kind of mission success right about now. Additionally, TF 124 supported the expansion of USSTRATCOM’s Airborne Command Post (ABNCP) mission to three new bases under Brian’s leadership.
Brian’s career is a testament to the fact that he is a leader and warfighter first. He has always chosen to be the best at what he does. As an E-6B pilot, Brian has over 4,500 hours of crew and battle staff time. It would not be an exaggeration to say that there are very few who know more about the mission than Brian does. Only someone with such passion, vision, leadership and warfighting commitment could have worked with Fleet Forces, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) to get the E-6B sourced as an asset to USCENTCOM. This platform supported the Global War on Terror, flying convoy support missions over Iraq during the surge from 2006-2008.
But his real claim to fame − now, I may be a little biased here − is that he has been involved in the last 14 Global Thunder exercises, all of them since 2002. For those of you in the audience who may not have had the pleasure of participating in this elite training exercise, Global Thunder is an annual command and control exercise designed to train Department of Defense forces, assess joint operational readiness and validate the ability to identify and mitigate attacks across all of USSTRATCOM’s mission areas. These exercises also have a specific focus on cyber, space, missile defense and nuclear readiness. I am sure that is some kind of record for a military officer.
Seriously though, Brian, you will be sorely missed. You joined the U.S. Navy to serve your country; know that you have served your country well.
With every assignment and increase in rank, you made positive changes which directly impacted the readiness and operational effectiveness of our warfighters.
You leave behind a tremendous legacy in the people you led and mentored, the relationships you established and the goals you set and achieved.
Edward, this is an exciting day for you and your family.
While you may not lay claim to as many Global Thunder exercises as Brian − though there’s still time − you are exactly the right leader to take this community forward into the new and developing mission set you have been tasked to accomplish. I know you will maintain the integrity of our historical missions in deterring aggressors from attempting first strike as new technologies and capabilities are brought to the E-6B platform.
You also bring a deep understanding of the mission and warfighting. I couldn’t be happier to see you take the reins as commodore.
Brian, fair winds and following seas. Thank you again for your service; I wish you the best as you transition out of uniform and spend more time with your family. I know you won’t spend too much time relaxing, you have a lot of college to pay for in your future.
Edward and Jamie, again, congrats!
To the men and women of TF 124 and SCW 1, thank you and your families for your service and the contributions you make to our grateful nation each and every day!
Thank you all, and may God continue to bless our joint military force and the USA.