JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, TEXAS–Members of Air Education and Training Command gathered as the guidon was passed from Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson to Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, signifying the formal transfer of authority and responsibility from one commander to another in a ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Nov. 16.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein presided over the ceremony and shared on his sincere appreciation for the men and women who recruit, train and educate every Airmen in the United States Air Force.
“To the Airmen and families of the First Command, I want to thank you for making it known across the globe that Airpower starts here in Air Education and Training Command,” said Goldfein. “I believe we have only one lasting legacy as leaders: those we raise to replace us. If this is true, what an incredible legacy for this command that is responsible for raising the leaders our nation needs to fight and win in the most complex international environment we have seen since World War II.
“And with each passing of the guidon, we cement the historic legacy of an outgoing leader and introduce a new commander who will guide us into the future.”
Speaking directly to Roberson, Goldfein praised his tireless efforts here at the First Command and highlighted some of the accomplishments during Roberson’s tenure as commander.
In Roberson’s farewell remarks, he took a moment to praise the Airmen of AETC.
“To the Airmen of AETC, two and a half years ago when we began this chapter together, we discussed four overarching focus areas: motivational mission accomplishment, compassionate care of our Airmen and their families, innovation and leadership,” Roberson said. “Throughout my command tour, you definitely delivered on all of these. I feel so fortunate to have been able to serve alongside some of the most innovative and bright minds throughout the Air Force. Every single Airman goes through AETC so thank you for the impact you have had on so many people…this is where Airpower starts!”
Turning his attention to Kwast, who comes to JBSA-Randolph from Maxwell AFB, Alabama, where he was the president and commander of Air University, Goldfein challenged him with a drive for continued excellence throughout the command.
“When it was time to select the new AETC commander, Gen. Steven Kwast was the obvious choice,” Goldfein said. “In Kwast, we have an Airman whose resume strikes a balance between combat warrior, intellectual and leader. And perhaps most importantly, he exudes humility, credibility and approachability. This is your next commander.”
Taking the podium to officially address AETC Airmen for the first time, Kwast proudly announced his excitement for this next chapter in his career.
“The beauty of today and this celebration is that Air Education and Training Command was designed as the First Command for the Air Force,” Kwast said. “Our forefathers recognized what it takes to remain relevant: humility and the desire to learn. And, that’s what we do here in AETC. We teach the next generation of Airmen how to learn more rapidly than their adversaries. We teach them how to innovate more broadly across a series of networks to see more ideas. And, we teach them how to network and build trust with other human beings. This is the great promise of this command. This is why it is the First Command. This is why we are the most powerful guardian of our constitution.”
Kwast ended the ceremony with a call to action for the men and women of the First Command.
“As we head into the future, here is your battle cry First Command Airmen: I want you to teach Airmen to be humble, noble, courageous and compassionate. Airmen who can outthink, outlearn, out innovate and out trust any adversary on planet earth.
“Words are cheap,” he continued. “Bold, aggressive actions that bring forward productive movement is all that matters.
Kwast, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, assumes command after spending the previous three years as president and commander of Air University. After completing a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, he was assigned to undergraduate pilot training where he earned his pilot wings in June 1989. He has more than 3,300 flying hours, including more than 650 combat hours during operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Allied Force and Enduring Freedom.