by Stefan T. Bocchino
377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
1/28/2011 - Kirtland Air Force Base, NM -- Brig. Gen. Garrett Harencak became commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, succeeding Brig. Gen. Everett Thomas, in a Jan. 20 ceremony here. Gen. Donald Hoffman, Air Force Materiel Command commander, presided over the change of command.
About 300 people, including commanders, employees, family members and community leaders, attended the ceremony at the Mountain View Club.
"To the men and women of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center -- you are an incredible team of dedicated, patriotic Americans, directly responsible for the ultimate defense of the nation we have sworn to protect," said General Harencak. "All of you, regardless of your particular duties day-to-day, are worthy of our highest praise and gratitude."
General Harencak discussed the difficulty of a work environment where nothing short of perfection is required every day. In antiquity, he said, there was a saying that "all roads lead to Rome." He said that, working together, the center staff would make sure all nuclear sustainment roads lead to Kirtland Air Force Base.
"As your commander, I pledge to you 100 percent of my energy and 100 percent of my support," said General Harencak. "Together, we will continue the tremendous work you have done and build on your success. We will accomplish even more -- not for us, our jobs or our careers -- but for America. It's my distinct honor and pleasure to serve as your commander."
General Hoffman talked about the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center's evolution and its beginnings with a staff of only five to 10 people. The center has now grown to more than 300 employees.
"We now have a single bellybutton for the Air Force in sustainment and assurance that our nuclear weapons are safe, secure and effective, when and if they have to be used," said General Hoffman. "We have been given additional missions as part of the center's responsibility. This dynamic road has been chaperoned by General Thomas."
General Hoffman said senior leaders undoubtedly noted General Harencak's previous experience in selecting him for this assignment. General Harencak has commanded two bomb wings and has experience with the broader nuclear mission, coming from the National Nuclear Security Administration.
"The NNSA is the partnership agency that bonds the Department of Defense to the Department of Energy, to make this national mission come about," said General Hoffman. "There's a very precious partnership there we have with DOE. General Harencak's inside knowledge of that relationship will be very important for the future path of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center."
General Hoffman also acknowledged the men and women of the AFNWC, telling them they have a lot to be proud of. He asked them to give the new commander the same loyalty they gave to the previous commander, so the center can continue to grow as an effective organization.