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General Welser assumes command of 18th Air Force

by 2nd Lt. Dustin Hart
AMC Public Affairs
Lt. Gen. William Welser III (right) assumes command of the 18th Air Force from Gen. John W. Handy, commander U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command, during a ceremony Monday at the Scott Air Force Base Club.

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - Lt. Gen. William Welser III assumed command of the recently reactivated 18th Air Force during a change of command ceremony Monday at Scott AFB.

In the ceremony, officiated by Gen. John W. Handy, commander U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command, General Welser was also promoted to his new grade.

The 18th AF, located at Scott, is Air Mobility Command's only numbered air force. It reactivated Oct. 1 and is responsible with tasking and executing all air mobility missions.

"This war fighting concept ... the 18th Air Force, is exquisite," General Welser said. "If you think about all the things we have done in the history of Air Mobility Command, suddenly we have an organization under a single commander with the mobility forces… to go out and fight the wars of the future. I look forward to the opportunity to do that job."

As 18th AF commander, General Welser leads a force of more than 54,000 airmen and civilians located at 12 AMC wings, three AMC groups, the Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott AFB and the new 15th and 21st Expeditionary Mobility Task Forces.

Maj. Gen. Paul Essex, director of AMC Plans and Programs Directorate, served as the 18th AF commander while General Welser's presidential nomination awaited congressional approval. Congress approved the nomination Nov. 25.

General Welser's prior assignment was as the Director of Operations for USTRANSCOM. He left that assignment in August and has since served as special assistant to General Handy.

General Welser is a command pilot with more than 3,500 hours in the C-5, C-141, KC-10 and T-1. He has held command positions at the squadron, wing and headquarters levels, as well as at the TACC and the Air Mobility Warfare Center, Fort Dix, N.J.




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