General Carlisle takes command of Pacific Air Forces
8/6/2012 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM -- Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle took command of Pacific Air Forces from Gen. Gary North Aug. 3, 2012, in a change of command ceremony here.
Presiding over the ceremony, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz praised North's past accomplishments and Carlisle's future potential as the commander of PACAF.
Schwartz addressed a crowd of more than 500 people in historic Hangar 35, with a C-17 Globemaster III, KC-135 Stratotanker and F-22 Raptor posted just outside. During the ceremony, four formations of Airmen stood at attention to represent the Airmen of Pacific Air Forces. The military formation was comprised of the PACAF vice commander, the four numbered air force commanders, and four flights of Airmen representing the nine wings and more than 43,000 active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen who serve across Pacific Air Forces.
"We are here to acknowledge the past accomplishments of two of the Air Force's most accomplished, inspirational and respected leaders," Schwartz said. "They are exactly the kind of leaders we need at the helm of Pacific Air Forces as the command conducts its very important mission in a very important region."
During his command, North executed PACAF's primary mission to provide U.S. Pacific Command integrated expeditionary Air Force capabilities to defend the homeland, promote stability in the region, dissuade and deter aggression and swiftly defeat enemies.
Schwartz described the critical contributions that PACAF has made under North's command, including the notable Operation Tomodachi and Pacific Passage, in which PACAF flew more than 850 sorties, delivered 5 million pounds of U.S. relief supplies to Japan and evacuated approximately 7,400 American citizens from potential hazard zones.
Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander of Pacific Command, also presided over the ceremony, as the PACAF commander also serves as PACOM's air component commander.
"The joint commitment to the rebalance [toward the Asia-Pacific region] has been boldly led by General North, who personally assured that U.S. Air Forces in the Pacific remain ready and capable of guaranteeing the security and stability that this region must have for our success," Locklear said.
North was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his accomplishments as commander and then received his final salute from the men and women of PACAF as he relinquished command.
"We are truly grateful for the wonderful showing of support, the trust we have received, and the friendships we've made during the last three years in the Pacific," North said. "To the men and women of Pacific Air Forces, we have been privileged to have served alongside you and our total force partners, sister services of the Pacific Command and certainly our friends, allies and partners - some of which are represented here today - and many others," he said drawing attention to the representatives in the audience from Japan, Australia and Singapore.
Carlisle comes to PACAF from his prior position as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C. He was also a prior commander of 13th Air Force here.
During his time at the Pentagon, Carlisle oversaw the fielding of the F-35 Lightning II and played an instrumental role in advocating for the full range of Air Force operational capability and capacity.
"[His] forging of close and cooperative relationships with his service counterparts in the Pentagon will reap great rewards for our Air Force in the form of even stronger, more enduring relationships and enhanced operational collaboration with our joint partners," Schwartz said. "Clearly we can see that Hawk is a forward-looking leader who is a perfect fit for command of PACAF."
Directly addressing Carlisle, Schwartz went on to say, "PACAF is ready to benefit from your breadth of experience, your depth of leadership and your passion for our Airmen."
Locklear echoed Schwartz's outlook on the future.
"He's an impressive leader with a distinctive career and significant experience in this region," he said. "I'm confident that you will continue to build upon the accomplishments of PACAF."
Carlisle then received his first salute as the new PACAF commander and expressed his thanks to Schwartz and Locklear.
"I am incredibly humbled to stand before you here today as the commander of Pacific Air Forces," said Carlisle. "Thank you for your trust and faith in me and giving me this incredible opportunity. Your Pacific Air Forces provide unrivaled combat power, capability and capacity in air, space and cyberspace."
Carlisle also thanked North.
"Thank you for handing me a command that is at the top of its game and for leading our Pacific Airmen to great accomplishments," he said.
Carlisle assured the men and women of PACAF that as the nation increases its focus on the Asia-Pacific region, PACAF Airmen would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen to face these challenges head-on.
"I am incredibly humbled to be leading the great Airmen and families that make up PACAF," he said. "We are all in this together and will face our challenges with dedication, discipline and courage. We will devote ourselves to this great nation we serve and hand to our children, and our children's children, a better, safer world where freedom prevails."