Building upon a 20-year career serving the U.S. special operations community, Lt. Gen. Brad Webb took the reigns as commander of the 20,000-strong Air Force Special Operations Command, headquartered at Hurlburt Field outside Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Gen. David L. Goldfein, who was confirmed as Chief of Staff of the Air Force last month, presided over the ceremony where Webb replaced Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold. It was announced in March that Webb would be tapped for the three-star level position.
Goldfein said he has a special place in his heart for Air Commandos.
“If it weren’t for the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron and the 55th and 21st Special Operations Squadrons pulling me out of Serbia, I wouldn’t be standing here today,” he said. “Our nation has no idea how good AFSOC is on the battlefield…but I do. And, I want to say thank you.”
Navy Vice Adm. Sean Pybus, deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, also participated in the ceremony.
Pybus said Air Commandos are indispensable to USSOCOM’s efforts to win and influence around the world.
“Today’s special operations are about shooting, moving and communicating faster than our adversaries,” he said. “[We] have come to depend on AFSOC to provide a great degree of that shooting, moving and communicating with the world’s best joint special operations force.”
Goldfein welcomed Webb, who previously served as the commander of NATO Special Operations Headquarters in Mons, Belgium.
“When it came time to pick the next AFSOC commander, we scanned the entire general officer corps to find another officer – named Brad,” said Goldfein. “In all seriousness, General Brad Webb was the obvious choice.”
Heithold agreed. During his final remarks as the AFSOC commander, he spoke highly of Webb.
“This is a Distinguished Flying Cross recipient. This is a man who understands battle. This is a man who has been there. This is a man, an Airman, who has led multi-ship formations deep into Iraq,” Heithold said. “General Brad Webb is a person who has earned his spurs. He’s commanded at all levels, and he’s exactly the right person to take command.”
Then, Heithold thanked his Air Commandos.
“I am humbled to have served with you,” he said. “Thank you to each and every one of you in the formation and in the audience today. Thank you for your dedicated and selfless service to our country. It was truly a privilege to serve as your commander.”
AFSOC’s mission is to present combat-ready forces to conduct and support global special operations missions. The command consists of highly trained, rapidly deployable Airmen, conducting global special operations missions ranging from precision application of firepower, to infiltration, exfiltration, resupply and refueling of special operations forces’ operational elements.
Webb inherits a command with more than 19,000 Air Commandos worldwide. He is the 11th commander of the organization.
“Our challenges today run the continuum of the spectrum of conflict,” Webb said. “AFSOC will tirelessly seek to strike the balance of these myriad of challenges.
“And, we will always have our most important asset…our people, our Airman and families, in mind,” Webb continued. “As Orde Wingate said, ‘I will [go] with you boys any place, any time, any where.’”