Gen. Mark A. Welsh III takes command of USAFE
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz gives Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the command of U.S. Air Forces in Europe during a change of command ceremony, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Dec. 13, 2010. Gen. Roger A. Brady, outgoing USAFE commander, relinquished command during the change of command ceremony after providing command and control for air, space and missile defense for activities in an area of operations covering almost one-fifth of the globe which included 51 countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Caleb Pierce)
USAFE welcomes new commander

by Capt. Tristan Hinderliter
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs

12/13/2010 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- U.S. Air Forces in Europe Airmen welcomed a new commander this week with the arrival of Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, who assumed command during a ceremony here Dec. 13.

"This command is in great shape," General Welsh said. "My goal is just to make things even better than they have been in the past."

General Welsh comes to USAFE from Washington D.C., where he served as Associate Director for Military Affairs at the Central Intelligence Agency. He has held a variety of command and staff jobs during his 34-year career, including commander of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, and vice commander of Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

The general said his priorities fall into two areas: people and mission.

"We have to take care of the Airmen who we are privileged to lead in this command," he said. "I know that supervisors, commanders and command chiefs in USAFE have been doing this, and I just want to make sure we stay focused on it."

Anything that affects Airmen or their families is worth paying attention to, he said, whether it's adjusting to a new cultural dynamic or living in a new community.

"Those are the kinds of things that affect people's behavior and performance at work, so we have to make sure that our Airmen and their families are as comfortable as we can make them in that regard," General Welsh said. "If they feel well cared for, our Airmen perform better - it's really that simple."

The general's first priority goes hand-in-hand with his "other first priority": accomplishing the mission.

"We need to make sure that we never lose sight of the fact that the only thing we will be graded on by the people who task us, and the public that they represent, is how well we do the job," he said. "So, taking care of people is the cornerstone of good leadership. Good leadership creates pride. Those people and that pride create performance, and, for us, performance is the bottom line."

In addition to commanding USAFE, General Welsh will serve as commander of the Allied Air Command at Ramstein and as director of the multinational Joint Air Power Competence Centre at Kalkar, Germany.

"This is my first NATO assignment, and I'm really excited to be part of the Alliance," he said.

This is General Welsh's third assignment in Europe. From 1981 to 1984 he was stationed at Royal Air Force Woodbridge, England, as an A-10 instructor pilot, and again from 2001 to 2003 as director of Plans and Programs at USAFE headquarters.

"I love everything about being stationed in Europe," said General Welsh, who is accompanied on this assignment by his wife, Betty, and their dog, Rillo. "I love the partner nations and the cultures. I love learning about a history that dates well beyond our own. Europe is a beautiful and historic place, so it's exciting to be here."

General Welsh said he is looking forward to meeting the Airmen of USAFE as he travels around the theater in the coming weeks and months.

"I came into the Air Force because I was in love with the airplanes," General Welsh said. "I stayed in because I fell in love with the people. And I'd like them to know that I believe that leadership is a gift - it's given by those who follow. But you have to be worthy of it. And my job is to prove I am."