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Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, passes command of Task Force 214 to Maj. Gen. Michael J. Carey. Carey assumed command of 20th AF and Task Force 214 during a change-of-command ceremony June 22 on the Historic Argonne Parade Field at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Matt Bilden)
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Airmen of 20th Air Force and Task Force 214 welcome new commander

Posted 6/29/2012   Updated 6/29/2012 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Angela Webb
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

6/29/2012 - F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Maj. Gen. Michael Carey assumed command of the 20th Air Force from Maj. Gen. C. Donald Alston June 22 on F. E. Warren's historic Argonne Parade Field in a ceremony which also marked Alston's retirement from active duty after 34 years of service.

More than a thousand active-duty, reserve, retired, family and friends attended this week's events. Hundreds of Airmen participated in the pass-in-review during the 10 a.m. ceremony. Among the guests were commanders, command chiefs and civic leaders from 20th Air Force's three missile bases here, at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., and at Minot AFB, N.D. The presence of all reinforced the continuing importance of the Air Force's nuclear deterrence and global strike forces.

As Carey assumed command, he said, "It is truly an honor to stand before you today as the commander of the 20th Air Force and U.S. Strategic Command's Task Force 214. Never did I imagine that I would have this opportunity when I joined the Air Force on June 21, 1978, 34 years ago, as an Airman Basic."

Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of U.S. Strategic Command; and Lt. Gen. Jim M. Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, were the featured speakers.

"Since 1992 the officer who has been in direct operational control of our nation's ICBM's has worn two hats," Kehler said. "First as the commander of the 20th Air Force, responsible to train, equip and organize this force. The second is the commander of Task Force 214, for the operational role as an always-ready nuclear deterrent and, should it become necessary, for the nuclear strike mission. In large measure because the previous commanders of Task Force 214, including [Maj. Gen.] Alston, have performed their 20th Air Force and the Task Force 214 operational deterrent role so well, the strike part of the mission has never been necessary."

He praised the members of 20th Air Force and Task Force 214 for their ability to perform a mission which is so vital to the nation's security.

"I am never concerned about the professionalism of this command, and its ability to execute the mission if called upon," Kehler said. "I am never worried when we put the mission in the hands of the young men and women in 20th Air Force and Task 214."

He passed one piece of advice to Carey as the new 20th Air Force and Task Force 214 commander.

"Listen more than you speak," he said. "Not only will you learn more about what's going on; when you do need to speak, the impact is even greater."
Kowalski spoke of the rich traditions and colorful history of the 20th Air Force, with roots dating back to World War II.

"We have had 67 years of peace between major world powers, in large part, because the Airmen of 20th Air Force stood their ground," he said. "We in Global Strike Command are very proud of your many accomplishments in this critically important and often unappreciated mission."

Kowalski expressed his confidence in Carey's ability to lead the 20th Air Force, keeping true to its proud legacy.

"I could not place the flag of the 20th into more capable hands," he said. "Throughout his career, Carey has been consistently described as calm under pressure, tenacious, a brilliant strategist and, most importantly, as a motivator and leader who deeply cares about the morale and wellbeing of his Airmen."

Carey thanked Kehler and Kowalski for the opportunity to command the ICBM alert force. Carey also thanked all of those in formation and peers in the missile field today for the security they provide the nation.

"I will never forget my days as an Airman and my lovely bride, Melody, reminds me daily that at the top of the pyramid, we serve those who build the base," Carey said, addressing his command. "Mighty Ninety, 91st, 341st and 20th Air Force, I look forward to serving you as your commander and I am truly one of you."

He concentrated on the dedication and fortitude needed to carry out the nuclear deterrent mission, as well as the significant history the 20th Air Force has always had.
"Ours is an elite mission, demanding the best from all of us," he said. "I know that you are up to the task, and I am honored and prepared to lead you."

In retiring Alston, Kehler shared experiences they had together, and highlighted the accomplishments Alston achieved for the nuclear enterprise. Kehler expressed his gratitude to both Alston and his wife, Ana.

"I want to personally and professionally thank you for your service," he said to Alston. "Not only have you been an outstanding commander of 20th Air Force and Task Force 214, but you've been an outstanding officer throughout your entire career."

The official party, in F. E. Warren Air Force Base tradition, departed the ceremony by horse-drawn carriage.

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