The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has a new commander. On June 28, Lt. Gen. Jim Slife replaced Lt. Gen. Brad Webb as the Air Force’s new special operations chief. He will now command close to 21,000 spec ops airmen.
“When it came time to pick someone for AFSOC’s continuing legacy, General Slife was the obvious choice,” said Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein during the ceremony. “He brings with him the expertise to take this command to new heights. As the United States Special Operations Command vice commander, he ensured our special operations forces had the resources they needed to get the mission done.”
On behalf of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, SOCOM’s commander, said General Slife “is the perfect man at the perfect time for this critical position. He set an example for all of us to follow. Your dedication to our nation and its great warriors has left a profound impact on all of us. You are going to continue to keep AFSOC on its global scale and foster the culture of ‘There is a way – we find it.’”
General Slife is certainly familiar with Air Force spec ops. In his career of over 30 years, the new AFSOC commander has served as an MH-53J pilot and instructor, the director of operations for the 20th Special Operations Squadron, the commander of the 27th Special Operations Group, and the commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing.
In his assumption speech, General Slife stated, “These airmen here today [referring to the numerous active duty, retired, and former Air Commandos present in the change of command] – we’ll talk about them as legends. We have airmen wearing Air Force Crosses and Silver Stars. These are outstanding airmen. I will serve them with the humble dedication they deserve.”
General Slife assumes command of AFSOC during a crucial transitioning period. Only recently, the Special Operations Weather Technician career field was revamped to Special Reconnaissance. Furthermore, the Air Force is currently replacing the Battlefield Airmen designation with Special Warfare Airmen.
General Webb said during a recognition ceremony on the eve of his departure: “Air Commandos don’t let challenges stop them from getting the mission done. We don’t quit. We know there is a way, we find it. When put to the test, Air Commandos have the moral and physical courage to prevail; courage, determination and innovation. Every one of you OAY Airmen [Outstanding Airmen of the Year] out here have a little bit of Lt. Col. Dick Cole and Master Sgt. John Chapman in you. Your accomplishments reflect your own courage, determination and innovation. You have the eye of the tiger. You have the guts to try and you know there is a way and you will find it.”
Interestingly, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command is also an airman – Lt. Gen. Scott Howell. Will SOCOM be next?