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7 AF receives new commander during historic times

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay
  • Seventh Air Force Public Affairs

Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Commander, United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea, presided over the Seventh Air Force change of command ceremony today in which Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Bergeson relinquished command to Lt. Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.

As tradition dictates, the passing of the flags occured in front of the men and women of the 7th AF, the 51st Fighter Wing, Osan Air Base, the 8th Fighter Wing, Kunsan AB, and the U.S. Army 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade to signify the change of authority from one commander to the other.

During the ceremony, Brooks commended Bergeson for his efforts.

“The situation on the peninsula has fundamentally changed from the way it was two years ago due to the expert use of air power to demonstrate resolve, to expose vulnerabilities and to demonstrate self-restraint, all working together, to create an opening for diplomacy to take hold.”

Also in attendance was Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., Commander, Pacific Air Forces, who reflected on Bergeson’s command tenure.

“The many recent difficulties in this theater presented Lt. Gen. Bergeson with the opportunity to increase readiness, provide military options and reassure our allies and partners,” said Brown. “He seized the opportunity to lead the most robust improvement to wartime readiness in decades, filling war reserve materiel shortages and restoring warfighting capability to ensure dominant combat air power is well-postured across the Korean theater of operations.”

Brown also offered words of inspiration to the U.S. Airmen and Soldiers who watched as one era ended and another began.

“I am confident Lt. Gen. Wilsbach will guide 7th AF and U.S. Forces Korea to build upon and maintain readiness as a backstop to the ongoing diplomatic efforts,” Brown said. “He will build enduring relationships with our ally, the Republic of Korea, and keep our forces united, vigilant, and ready to defend against any challenge.”

Wilsbach, who recently relinquished command of the Alaskan NORAD Region, Alaskan Command, and 11th Air Force, addressed the men and women of his command and addressed the importance of their continued dedication and service to the alliance 65 years in the making.

 “I am new to the peninsula but not the region, and the strength of the ROK/US alliance is very clear to me as I stand here,” said Wilsbach. “Born of strategic significance and mutual respect, it thrives on the strength of the combined Airmen, and it evolves each day we continue to learn from each other.”

Wilsbach assumed command of more than 8,900 Total Force Airmen as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Korea/ Commander, Air Component Command, United Nations Command/Air Component Command, Combined Forces Command/7th AF, Pacific Air Forces, Osan AB, Republic of Korea.

Wilsbach closed the ceremony by stating, “I look forward to partnering with you all as we continue to support our diplomatic efforts by maintaining unequaled military readiness, prepared to deter, defend, and if called upon, defeat the enemy. I am humbled by your attendance today, and honored to serve as your commander. Kamshamnida. Katchi Kapshida!”