SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Chad P. Franks took command of Ninth Air Force June 13 from Maj. Gen. Scott J. Zobrist during a change of command ceremony.
Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, presided over the ceremony.
“In the past year, Ninth Air Force reached initial operational capability as a Joint Task Force-capable headquarters, offering a new capability for joint leaders,” Holmes said. “They continue to support Air Combat Command, the Air Force at large and our joint partners, and they’ll provide an operational warfighting component ready to deliver strategic combat airpower.
“Your efforts have enabled us to continue to exploit and control air, space and cyber and have helped us to get after the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s priority of developing joint leaders and teams,” Holmes continued.
Holmes emphasized Zobrist’s efforts as a leader, paving the way for Ninth AF to become what it is today.
“[General Zobrist], you’ve worked tirelessly for your people, and your dedication is always noticed,” he explained. “Your leadership as a Ninth Air Force commander has been incredible, and your work for your Airmen has empowered and equipped a generation of Airmen to carry out their current missions and ensure dominance in future joint fights.”
Additionally, Holmes expressed how Franks’ leadership and joint experiences will complement Ninth AF as it continues toward full operational capability as a JTF-capable headquarters.
“General Franks is at the pinnacle of experience in the HH-60 and CSAR [combat search and rescue] world … he’s been a leader at every level,” Holmes stressed. “All of that, combined with his recent assignment, has set him up for success here as the Ninth Air Force commander.
“Your foresight, leadership and intricate understanding of the joint environment has resulted in serious improvements and excellence everywhere you go. I know this trend will continue as you take command of Ninth Air Force and lead this NAF [numbered air force] into an exciting future,” he continued.
Franks, a graduate of the University of New Orleans ROTC program, previously served as the deputy commander for Operations and Intelligence at Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve and the commander of 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force-Levant in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, before taking command of Ninth AF.
“What an honor to be here with you today … Kim and I are extremely excited about this opportunity,” Franks said. “General Holmes, thanks for this incredible opportunity to rejoin this Ninth Air Force team … General Zobrist let me add to the congratulations on such an incredible career. Thanks for your outstanding leadership of Ninth Air Force and thanks for your service to your country.
“General Holmes, someone once said, ‘Good teams want to be told they are good; great teams want to get told how they can get better’. My promise to you is every Airman in Ninth Air Force, including myself, will come to work every day with a focus on working to get better, so we can continue to deliver unmatched lethal fires for our joint and coalition partners wherever it is required,” Franks continued.
Zobrist will retire Sept. 1 after 33 years of military service. He not only thanked his family and Ninth AF Airmen during the ceremony, but addressed them in a farewell commentary.
The change of command was also the last official event for Chief Master Sgt. Dave Wade as the outgoing Ninth AF command chief and the first official event for Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin Hedden as the incoming Ninth AF command chief. Wade will become the next ACC command chief.
In addition to organizing, training and equipping its headquarters to be a deployable, operational-level JTF, Ninth AF also prepares its subordinate commands to prepare for and execute expeditionary taskings. In total, Ninth AF commands eight wings and three direct reporting units in the Southeastern U.S., ensuring the operational readiness of more than 400 aircraft and 26,000 active duty and civilian members.