Service members of Air Combat Command welcomed their new commander during a change of command ceremony Aug. 28 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
Gen. Mark Kelly took command from Gen. Mike Holmes during a ceremony presided over by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. who shared some words of encouragement to Kelly and highlighted his accomplishments.
“Gen. Kelly is the perfect choice to inspire and lead this command into the future,” Brown said. “Throughout his career, he has demonstrated great courage and leadership. His intelligence and tenacity have been proven time and time again.”
Prior to taking the reins of ACC, Kelly served as the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations at the Pentagon. As part of his responsibilities, he led the development and implementation of policy directly supporting global operations, force management, weather, training and readiness across air, space and cyber fields.
Kelly entered the Air Force in 1986, receiving his commission from the Air Force ROTC program at Southwest Texas State University. He is a command pilot with more than 6,000 flying hours, including over 800 combat hours in fighter aircraft.
Holmes talked about those flying hours and how Kelly’s years of experience have prepared him to lead ACC.
“You’ve always made me better,” Holmes said about how he and Kelly have worked together for many years. “You’ve made me a better aviator, a better Airman, a better officer and I know you’ll make ACC better.”
Kelly acknowledged the challenge and accepted the solemn responsibilities of ACC leadership.
“In human endeavor, there is no business, there is no sport – there is no challenge that compares to high-end, high-tech, high-speed combat,” Kelly said. “It is very unfortunately the ultimate team competition, and so it requires an ultimate team. So it goes without saying that (ACC) is a huge force provider, but it is also entrusted with building this ultimate team.”
This team includes more than 156,000 Total Force Airmen and civilians at more than 242 operating locations worldwide.
“And that broader team is built on a foundation of trust — the genuine focus on what’s best for the greater good of the nation,” he continued. “I look forward to working with this broader team and advocating for Air Combat Command as we build this ultimate team.”