RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
The Air Education and Training Command welcomed a new senior leader this week, as Maj. Gen. Mark Welsh III stepped in as the vice commander.
A veteran of more than 31 years of service, General Welsh most recently worked in the area of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance -- where among other things he led the development of strategies to provide combatant commanders ISR operations that met warfighting requirements.
Though the "black" world of ISR operations seems vastly different from the education and training mission, General Welsh said the parallels are clear to him.
"Both jobs involve providing our warfighting commanders and national decision makers with the best possible tools to do the very difficult things they're trying to do around the world every day," General Welsh said. "For those of us in AETC, that involves providing the world's best education and training for the world's greatest fighting force -- so when that fighting force arrives in those warfighting commanders' organizations, they are able to do the stuff that they're trying to accomplish ... which is really, really hard work in some really, really tough places."
While the general said he was fascinated by his involvement with and visibility of ongoing operations around the world every day, he emphasized that everything begins with the mission of AETC.
"The bottom line in this business is that Air Power, or Space Power, or Cyberspace Power -- or any other kind of power we can think of -- starts here. Everything the Air Force has accomplished, is accomplishing, and will accomplish is built on a foundation of training and education," General Welsh said. "If you look back at the heritage and history of our Air Force -- and the Army Air Corps before it -- it's a spectacular success story. So that foundation is obviously a strong one, and some incredible people built it. I think it's pretty exciting to be part of this team whose job is now to improve (the foundation) and make it even better! AETC touches every part of the Air Force -- we simply have to be good!"
The new vice commander said he considers leadership a gift given by those who follow, and that it's important to him to prove worthy of that gift. While he emphasized the importance of joining the leadership team at AETC and learning more about his job before giving out much advice, General Welsh did stress one issue that has been important to him throughout a career touching four different decades.
"I came in the Air Force because I loved airplanes. I stayed in because I fell in love with the people. I have always believed that everyone is critically important to this mission and deserves to be treated that way," the general said. "I think that in AETC we set the standard for how people are treated for the remainder of their Air Force career. That first impression we make on everybody who comes through our initial training programs directly leads to the way they will treat people in the future. I'm really honored to be part of the team that sets the example of treating people with respect while at the same time demanding high performance standards and attention to detail. The bonus for those of us in AETC is that we know you can also have a great time doing it!"
General Welsh replaces Lt. Gen. Dennis Larsen, who retired July 27.