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AETC welcomes new commander
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III (left), Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., Air Education and Training Command commander, and Gen. Robin Rand, future AETC commander, arrive at the AETC change of command ceremony here Oct. 10. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rich McFadden)
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AETC welcomes new commander

Posted 10/10/2013   Updated 10/10/2013 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Beth Anschutz
Air Education and Training Command

10/10/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Gen. Robin Rand took command of Air Education and Training Command from Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr. during a ceremony here today.

Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff, presided over the ceremony.

"This is a special day, not just for the Rice and Rand families, but for the command and our Air Force family," said Welsh. "We get to acknowledge the profound impact of a great leadership team and thank them as they move on to new adventures in life, and we get to welcome another great leadership team to what is clearly one of the greatest jobs on earth."

Welsh reflected on Rice's service with reverence, noting some of his accomplishments along the way.

"For the past three years, AETC was led by Ed Rice with distinction. He worked tirelessly to create an environment of pride, and has been a spectacular role model ... for all of us." Welsh said. "During Ed's past three years at the helm, the great professionals of AETC have trained nearly a million Airmen, in every specialty in our Air Force; Active, Guard, Reserve, civilians and contractors ... you train them all! And Ed Rice leads the charge!"

Welsh said San Antonio is a great place to celebrate the end to Rice's tenure as AETC commander and also 35 years with the Air Force.

"For the last 35 years of service, Ed has been a giant in our Air Force," Welsh said. "I think it's fitting that he finishes his career in AETC, right where he started it back in 1978 as a pilot training student at Williams Air Force Base."

As Welsh reflected on the past, he noted that Rand has big shoes to fill, which will not be a problem for the new general in command.

"One of the greatest things about the Air Force is that every time we watch a great leader walk out the door and you get that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach and worry about being able to replace him, amazingly, another great leader seems to walk in that door," Welsh said. "That's certainly what's happening today."

Rand previously served as the 12th Air Force, Air Combat Command, commander. He is a command pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours, including 470 combat hours. He has held multiple flying tours, served as an air liaison officer with the U.S. Army and has had staff tours on the Joint Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense and Air Staff.

As Rand addressed the men and women of AETC, he recalled the first time he arrived at Randolph with his wife, Kim, as second lieutenants, 33 years ago for T-37 Instructor Pilot training.

"Never in my wildest imagination would I have envisioned being here on this stage today," Rand said. "If there is one word to summarize my emotions today, it would be grateful."

Rand said he is grateful to be able to serve in our Air Force with great Airmen, who are currently serving in combat operations or humanitarian missions in every theater, on every continent of the world.

"Let no one forget that these phenomenal Airmen are fully engaged and they and their families work and pay for their service with blood, sweat and tears," Rand said. "Let no one forget that each and every one of these Airmen got started, shaped and molded in the first command, right here in Air Education and Training Command."

As the new AETC commander, Rand is charged with recruiting, training and educating America's Airmen through innovation. With an assigned force of more than 60,000 active-duty Airmen, Reservists and civilians, AETC trains and educates more than 300,000 American and International students each year on bases throughout the country.

Rand's pledge for the command is simple.

"I will do everything humanly possible to ensure the Airmen trained in the First Command will be prepared to carry the nation's load," Rand said.

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