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NEWS | Sept. 12, 2011

19th AF commander visits 479th FTG

By Bekah Clark 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. Mark Solo, 19th Air Force commander, visited the men and women of the 479th Flying Training Group at Naval Air Station Pensacola Aug. 24 and 25 to receive an update on the CSO program which stood up just two years ago this fall.

During his time at NAS Pensacola, the general received a tour of the group's facilities and briefings on the unit's progress, student load, and personnel.

"This is truly a crawl, walk, run progression," said Solo in a briefing. "You're light-years ahead of where you started. We could not be happier with the progress you've made."

Solo also hosted an officer's call while visiting the 479th where he addressed the upcoming deactivation of 19th AF among other issues facing today's Air Force.

"The mission of the 19th will go on, just under a different patch," said Solo about the impending transition of 19th AF's functions to Air Education and Training Commander Headquarters.

The general also addressed concerns about potential changes to the military retirement system and budget cuts.

"I can tell you that I've been in the service for 32 years and I've been through these cycles," he said. "We always make it through and still provide first-class, world-class airpower."

The visit marks Solo's third visit to the 479th FTG, a geographically separated unit of the 12th Flying Training Wing that is the U.S. Air Force's single source pipeline for Combat Systems Officers.

The CSO program merges the navigator, weapons systems officer and electronic warfare officer career fields into one. Upon graduation from the program, each CSO is assignable to various aircraft platforms across the U.S. Air Force fleet.

The program is slated to produce more than 380 qualified CSOs each year.