Three consecutive generations of U.S. Air Forces in Europe commanders and the U.S. Africa Command deputy commander took to the stage as Gen. Frank Gorenc assumed command of USAFE, U.S. Air Forces Africa and Allied Air Command during a ceremony Aug. 2 on Ramstein.
The Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, voiced his confidence in the new commander, lauding his previous accomplishments.
“He earned the privilege of attending the Air Force Academy and was recognized at every stop as the very best at what he did,” said Welsh. “He is made of 100 percent pure leadership, and there is no one better for this job.”
Welsh and Gorenc worked together on Ramstein a little more than a year ago when Welsh was the USAFE commander and Gorenc commanded 3rd Air Force.
In closing, Welsh gave Gorenc one task regarding his new Airmen.
“Frank, I only have one tasker for you,” said Welsh. “Take a look around this hangar at the Airmen of USAFE and AFAFRICA … your Airmen. I need you to lead them. I need you to inspire them. I need you to take care of them.”
Gorenc’s immediate predecessor, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, echoed Welsh’s confidence in Gorenc.
“Frank, you are an exceptionally talented leader who will be an outstanding commander of USAFE, of Allied Air Command and of AFAFRICA,” Breedlove said. Breedlove closed his remarks by emphasizing the need to maintain and improve partnerships with our allies and improve crisis response capability around the world with smaller, more capable, quick reaction forces.
“This command — your command, Frank — stands shoulder to shoulder with our allied and partner nations across Europe, ensuring our collective freedom,” he said.
However, the responsibility of the new USAFE-AFAFRICA commander does not stop at the borders of Europe.
“The men and women of U.S. Air Forces Africa are an integral part of the Africa Command strategy and their contributions are a major factor in our success,” said Marine Lt. Gen. Steven A. Hummer, U.S. Africa Command deputy to the commander for military operations.
“Our Africa partners’ air forces are better today because of the training and mentoring provided by the men and women of Air Forces Africa,” he said.
About half way through the ceremony, Gorenc accepted the flags for USAFE, AFAFRICA and the Allied Air Command, symbolically assuming command.
As the new commander of USAFE-AFAFRICA, Gorenc is responsible for a full-spectrum of Air Force war-fighting capabilities in a theater spanning three continents, containing 104 independent states possessing more than one-fifth of the world’s population and more than a quarter of the world’s gross domestic product.
Looking out over more than 700 service members and allied partners, Gorenc addressed the crowd for the first time as the USAFE-AFAFRICA commander.
He began by thanking his family for their support. “In 1961, my parents emigrated from Yugoslavia with two small kids, $100, and a vision for success in America,” said Gorenc. “Although they have since passed, their dreams became a reality for me and
Gorenc and his brother, Stanley, were both born in what is now Slovenia, and his brother is a retired U.S. Air Force major general. “To the men and women of Air Forces in Europe, Africa and NATO, I want you to know this is a huge moment for me,” said Gorenc. “From humble beginnings to four-star command, I am grateful to a country that gave me every opportunity to succeed.”
Gorenc also had a few additional words to say to the Airmen working under his
“Operating with integrity, prioritizing service before self, and committing to excellence, Airmen will power the Air Force to ‘World’s Greatest’ status regardless of the challenges of the day,” he said. “History validates my view because I have personally observed throughout my 34-year career that when the going gets tough, our Airmen get going.”
As Gorenc took command of USAFE, AFAFRICA and Allied Air Command, he said, “To command is an honor and a privilege, but to command here is simply a dream come true.”