Air Combat Command welcomes new commander

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  • By Public Affairs staff
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

Air Combat Command Airmen bid farewell to Gen. Mark Kelly and welcomed new commander Gen. Ken Wilsbach during a change of command ceremony here February 29.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin presided over the ceremony, noting the pivotal role ACC will continue to play as the Air Force reoptimizes for Great Power Competition.

“We are reoptimizing for Great Power Competition, and we are not starting from scratch,” Allvin said. “Many of the key elements associated with the reoptimization began in Air Combat Command, and we will proliferate them throughout the Air Force, because that is where the future is taking us.”

Wilsbach comes to ACC from Pacific Air Forces in Hawaii, where he served as commander since July 2020. As the commander of ACC, he now oversees more than 156,000 Total Force Airmen and civilians operating around the world.

“Cruiser [Wilsbach] and Cindy have built trust at the individual level during their time at PACAF and they are bringing their absolute 100% passion and care for the entire Airmen family right here to Langley,” Allvin said. “This handoff is going to be a natural handoff, and it has to be... we have no time to waste.”

Speaking to the audience, Wilsbach shared his vision for ACC’s future.

 “We are going to work on creating dilemmas for China,” Wilsbach said. “To create those dilemmas in ACC we have to work on readiness, modernization and Agile Combat Employment. All of those things Gen. Kelly has been working on, so we are going to pick up where he left off, and we are going to carry on and expand the envelope on all of those.”

ACC is the primary force provider of combat airpower to America's warfighting commands. ACC organizes, trains, equips and maintains combat-ready forces for rapid deployment and employment while ensuring strategic air defense forces are ready to meet the challenges of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime air defense.

“We will continue to put an emphasis on the people,” Wilsbach said. “If you look at the patch that we wear on our uniforms it says, ‘People First, Mission Always.’ It’s because the people are the ones who do the mission and if the people are hurting, if the people don’t have what they need they can’t do the mission. So, we will continue to put an emphasis on making sure that those high performing team members can continue to be high performing.”

Kelly, who is retiring after nearly four decades of service, served as commander of ACC since August 2020.

“One of the greatest things he did that is so important as the ACC commander as the Lead MAJCOM for the Combat Air Forces, is to reach out to the other MAJCOMS that they support in that Lead MAJCOM role and he did that exquisitely,” Wilsbach said. “I speak for myself as the former PACAF commander, but I know the USAFE commander would say the same thing, Gen. Kelly did a great job supporting us and thank you for leaving a command that is in incredible, fantastic shape.”