Gen. Goldfein bids farewell today

Retired Lt. Gen. Winfield "Skip" Scott (left) of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing reunion group thanks Maj. Gen. Stephen Goldfein, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center outgoing commander, for a great tour. An F-22A Raptor is in the background. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Kasabyan Austin)

Retired Lt. Gen. Winfield "Skip" Scott (left) of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing reunion group thanks Maj. Gen. Stephen Goldfein, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center outgoing commander, for a great tour. An F-22A Raptor is in the background. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Kasabyan Austin)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Maj. Gen. Stephen Goldfein will relinquish command and pass the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center's guidon to Maj. Gen. Mike Worden Oct. 6. 

Gen. Ronald Keys, Air Combat Command commander, will officiate the change-of-command ceremony, which will take place at 2:30 p.m. today in the Thunderbirds hangar here.

During his final week, the outgoing commander took some time to reminisce about his time at Nellis and look to his future as the vice commander of ACC at Langley AFB, Va.

"I'm sad to be leaving Nellis for all the reasons anyone would expect - it's a spectacular place, a great community - both military and civilian, and it's the center of action for so many important things in our Air Force," said General Goldfein. "I am very thankful for the Airmen, the civilians and the contractors who do amazing work here every day - and for the communities surrounding Nellis, who offer the best support for a base and a mission that I've seen anywhere."

General Goldfein has led the warfare center through much more than just a name change during his two-year tenure - it has been more of a mindset change.

"We had to more clearly define the role of the warfare center in our Air Force, and then guide all our activities toward integrating air, space, cyber and mobility forces all together for the greater good," he said. "We're not trying to take an old force and change it, as much as we're trying to build a new force. If you take a plain sheet of paper and say, 'What would an air force be in the 21st century?' That's where we're trying to go."

The bridge from the Air Force of yesterday to the Air Force of tomorrow is being built one stone at a time, and General Goldfein has led the warfare center's effort towards that end.

"In the course of the last two years, we've gone from four warfare centers in the Air Force, down to one," said the general. "Our younger Airmen, more than anyone, understand the importance of integrating these functions and capabilities all toward creating effects on the battlefield."

One of the effects will be a streamlined training and deployment rotational schedule.

Two of the final items on the general's agenda before the change-of-command were to oversee the transition of Air Warrior to Green Flag as the Air Force's premier pre-deployment exercise for flying units who perform close air support. And, secondly, General Goldfein stood up the new 561st Joint Tactics Squadron Sept. 29.

"The new squadron will be lining up the new tactics and developing a rotation for units to go - tied to our major exercises like Green Flag and Red Flag, all designed to get our units ready to cycle smoothly in and out of the fight," said the 1978 Air Force Academy graduate.

The Global War on Terrorism has put many demands on all warfighters, including the warfare center and one of its primary missions - creating plans.

"Plans are a wonderful thing - but a plan, a tactic, is only good until you have contact with the enemy - and then there's the fog and friction of war," explained the general. "There's a requirement to be very agile and adjust as you go along."

But, he said, the tactics created here can carry forces through the fight by always providing a baseline.

"It gives them a place to return to as they are making adjustments along the way," he said. "We provide that for the whole Air Force, and the Navy and Marine Corps, too."

The past couple years here have also seen an amazing speed of equipment updates.

"Who would've thought 10 years ago the Predator weapons system would've been the most highly demanded weapon system in the war on terror?" he asked. "Nobody would've ever predicted that."

During his time as commander, the Predator has advanced substantially. Another weapons system that was pushed forward rapidly was the Raptor.

"We took the F-22A from a weapons system ready to be tested and brought it forward to the point where the commander of Air Combat Command was able to declare it 'Initial Operational Capability' and put it into combat units ready to deploy," he said.

The general's high ops tempo will continue as he moves to Virginia, but the transition should be an effortless one.

"I was the commander of the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley, so I used to be the guy who got the call that said something wasn't right and to fix it," he said jokingly. "So now I'll be the guy who gets to make the call to say something's not right, so fix it.

"Most everything on the top of the COMACCs [Commander Air Combat Command] list of things to move forward on are at least touched by this warfare center, if not substantially. I'm pretty well subject-matter oriented going in the door. I already know all the folks on the staff, so I am hopeful of being able to move right in and be efficient and effective."

There are also personal reasons for him and Jeanne, his wife of 28 years, to be happy about the move.

"Our youngest son is in college on the East Coast, and we have friends still there from our last tour at Langley," said the father of two. Their oldest son graduated from the Air Force Academy a couple of years ago.

General Goldfein's successor, General Worden, is also an academy graduate and is a command pilot with more than 2,500 flying hours. He began his 30-year career flying F-4s and transitioned to F-16s. He has held numerous command positions throughout his career, and comes to Nellis from the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

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