News>Twenty-Fourth Air Force conducts first change of command
General William L. Shelton (left) Air Force Space Command commander, gives command of 24th Air Force to Maj. Gen. Suzanne M. Vautrinot during the unit's first change of command ceremony at the Gateway Club, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, April 29. General Vautrinot is now responsible for the Air Force’s newest numbered air force providing combatant commanders with trained and ready cyber forces which plan and conduct cyberspace operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by William Belcher)
Maj. Gen. Suzanne M. Vautrinot, 24th Air Force commander, takes her first salute as commander of the unit during the first Air Forces Cyber change of command ceremony at the Gateway Club, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, April 29. (U.S. Air Force photo by William Belcher)
by Tech. Sgt. Scott McNabb
24th Air Force Public Affairs
5/2/2011 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 24th Air Force's first commander, Maj. Gen. Richard E. Webber, relinquished command of Air Forces Cyber and Air Force Network Operations on April 29. The new commander is Maj. Gen. Suzanne M. Vautrinot.
General Webber, the first commander of the Nation's newest component NAF responsible for providing combatant commanders with trained and ready cyber forces which plan and conduct cyberspace operations, retired after 36 years of service. General Vautrinot assumed command having just served as the special assistant to the Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, Headquarters Air Force, Washington, D.C.
General William L. Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander, presided over the change of command, and more than 500 people attended.
General Shelton began by recognizing General Webber for standing up 24th Air Force less than two years ago.
"Under his steadfast leadership, the 24th went from activation to declaration of full up capability in an amazingly short 14 months," said the AFSPC commander. "Twenty-fourth Air Force was also formally designated as the Air Force operational component to U.S. Cyber Command. Clearly these are historic achievements and it's a testament to Dick Webber's leadership skills to harness the talents of this outstanding group of professionals and by any measure he has built an incredible team."
General Shelton went on to laud General Webber for shifting from traditional reactive network defense to a mission assurance posture, garnering dedicated intelligence resources to directly support cyber operations, reaching out to combatant commands around the world to integrate cyber courses of action into operational planning and radically restructuring the training of cyber warriors.
"Thanks for the terrific dedication and leadership that yielded long-lasting results and impacts," General Shelton said to General Webber. "In summary, you shot out of the blocks very quickly, you've made tremendous progress with this numbered air force and you've set the stage for much, much more. Your vision and determination will be missed."
General Shelton said while the commander has changed, the newest numbered air force remains in the right hands because General Vautrinot has the right blend of leadership skills, technical savvy, operational and policy expertise and strategic outlook.
"The bottom line for [General Vautrinot] here is that 24th Air Force is gaining a commander who understands the joint warfighter's cyber needs," said General Shelton. "And as commander of the Air Force operational component to U.S. Cyber Command, she will be in a position to make sure the Air Force delivers on its promises. Zan, welcome back to Air Force Space Command. You and 24th Air Force have my unwavering support as we push forward in this domain."
General Vautrinot took her first salute as commander of 24th Air Force then ordered the formation commander to put the troops at ease. She explained the action was not for a frivolous reason.
"I know you can stand tall and you have stood tall in the service of this nation, in your service to our Air Force and to our combatant commands," she said to the Airmen in formation. "I put you at ease so you could look around."
General Vautrinot then asked the formation to look around and see all the agencies and men and women who were there in support of the Airmen of 24th Air Force.
"You work in a largely virtual world, yet here is a physical representation of the support you have from across the military, across the community and our nation and it starts at the very top," said the new 24th Air Force commander.
She thanked General Shelton for his kind words and all the times she has been able to work for, and learn from, him.
"I have that opportunity again and accept that challenge and I won't let you down, we won't let you down," she said pointing to the formation.
General Vautrinot then praised General Webber for taking Air Forces cyber from fledgling to fully operational status.
"He left us a legacy to be proud of," she said. She then spoke of her plans to integrate closely with other combatant and support commands, as well as the Guard and Reserve counterparts that make up the Total Force.
"It goes beyond government, because this is about how we work together with the entire Nation," said General Vautrinot. "It's about hands interlinked, inseparable because the heavy lifting of cyberspace requires that kind of connection. What you defend in cyber you defend for your neighbors, your friends and your family. You're all amazing. You've spent the last week with the entire command impressing them just as you have impressed the nation within the joint fight. I couldn't be prouder to serve with you."
General Vautrinot graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1982. Her first job in the Air Force was as an analyst for the Secretary of the Air Force Special Projects division. She then transitioned to a program manager for command and control communications at U.S. Air Forces in Europe. Her first stint as a commander came in 1997 at 11th Space Warning Squadron, Schriever AFB, Colo. Soon after that she was named a fellow at Harvard University. General Vautrinot has also commanded at the group and wing levels and served in Joint Functional Component Command - Network Warfare, U.S. Strategic Command, and U.S. Cyber Command, both at Fort George G. Meade, Md., prior to coming to 24th Air Force.