KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE,N.M. --
U.S. Air Force Gen. CQ Brown Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force, along with his spouse, Sharene Brown, visited Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Aug. 12-13, 2021.
While touring the installation, they interacted with many of the base’s most significant mission partners, including the centers of operational testing, safety, weapons, and technology research and development laboratories that anchor Team Kirtland’s critical role in protecting and preserving U.S. national security.
Brown visited the AFOTEC 301 operational test course, where both Air and Space Force students are taught how to plan, execute and report operational testing throughout the acquisition of combat capability.
He talked about AFOTEC’s test mission and how it fits into his strategic vision for shaping the Air Force into the future.
“To address the challenges that endanger our national security, the transition to the future of the Air Force must start today,” Brown said. “AFOTEC is a part of determining where we want to be tomorrow by looking at how we test today in regard to agile combat employment. We don’t want to wait until there’s a crisis to determine that we should have done something. It’s not about what we could do, but what we’re going to do to bring the warfighter the capabilities that help them in the future fight.”
At AFRL Directed Energy, Brown received a briefing about how technology can be applied to the defense of installations. The Air Force Research Laboratory Directed Energy Directorate is the Department of the Air Force's Center of Expertise for directed energy and optical technologies. The directorate provides pervasive, world-class directed-energy and imaging-research technologies for users across the Air Force and the Department of Defense.
After having breakfast Aug. 13, 2021, with 10 Airmen at the Thunderbird Inn dining facility, Brown presided at a change of command ceremony at the Air Force Safety Center and a retirement ceremony for Maj. Gen. Rauch.
“For the last four years, Gen. Rauch, with the support of his family and a great team, has served with brilliance and has advanced the Air Force Safety Center to safeguard Airmen and Guardians, protect our resources and preserve combat capability,” said Brown. “John has a reputation of excellence … through his records and the tasks he has been given, he has made the Air Force better.”
“Not only is he a true warfighter, he is a strategic thinker, he is a leader who has instilled a culture of safety internal and external to this center,” said Brown. “John has been the longest-serving Air Force chief of safety. He oversaw the safety and wellbeing of nearly 700,000 Airmen and Guardians – all through the churn of a global pandemic.”
Brown acknowledged despite the inherent dangers within the military, Rauch and the Center ensured the safe execution of airpower anytime, anywhere.
“Today we pass this command over to Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt,” Brown said. “There is simply no one more qualified and ready to take the reins of the Air Force Safety Center than Jeannie.”
“Throughout Jeannie’s career, she has demonstrated great vision, courage and leadership,” Brown said. “First proving herself as a very capable aviator [as the first female fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force], she inspired a generation of women to achieve what was not possible when she first came in.”
At the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Brown was briefed on current issues, such as modernization of relevant systems. The AFNWC is the nuclear-focused center within Air Force Materiel Command. It synchronizes all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of the AFMC commander in direct support of Air Force Global Strike Command.
The general’s final stop at Kirtland was at Sandia National Laboratories where Brown spoke with leaders about various topics involving SNL’s missions and functions.
At the end of his visit, the Chief of Staff expressed his regard for the work happening at Kirtland AFB.
"It's always great to get out and meet the Airmen who are doing the Air Force mission every day. Sharene and I appreciate the members of Team Kirtland and their families, and we're grateful for their service," Brown said.
Editor’s note: The Air Force Safety Center and Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center contributed source material to this article.