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AFSOC welcomes new USSOCOM leader

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Lynette Rolen
  • Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

Air Force Special Operations Command welcomed the commander of United States Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, to Hurlburt Field, Florida, May 7.

During the visit, Clarke received an AFSOC orientation to gain an increased understanding of how the command contributes to the National Defense Strategy.

Clarke assumed command of USSOCOM on March 29, 2019, after serving at the Pentagon as the director for strategic plans and policy, Joint Staff.

As the 12th commander of USSOCOM, Clarke oversees approximately 70,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps Special Operations Forces and the Theater Special Operation Commands (TSOCs).

The AFSOC stop is Clarke’s first in a series to see USSOCOM components and TSOCs.

“I want to say thank you to all who welcomed me today,” said Clarke. “I look forward to working and talking with you. Together, we are going to build partnerships and amplify the larger joint force.”

While Clarke toured different units, he met the Airmen and leaders who accomplish the AFSOC mission of providing our nation’s specialized airpower … any place, any time, anywhere.  

Clarke observed capability demonstrations of AFSOC’s Airmen and aircraft.  These included a MC-130J Commando II and Special Operations Surgical Team demonstration, an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship demonstration with Special Tactics Airmen, a CV-22B Osprey demonstration with a personnel recovery team along with non-standard aviation asset demonstrations.

“What you do here at AFSOC is so important,” said Clarke as he toured the flightline and met Air Commandos. “You add so much value to the joint force.”

As the commander of USSOCOM, Clarke’s five special operations priorities are: compete and win for the nation, preserve and grow readiness, innovate for future threats, advance partnerships, and strengthen our force and family.

AFSOC’s Airmen are already out there creating multiple dilemmas for our adversaries, said Clarke. He went on to acknowledge appreciation for AFSOC’s 2030 vision and how it nests within and supports the larger National Defense Strategy.   

Throughout the visit, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AFSOC, and Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Smith, command chief of AFSOC, hosted Clarke.

“Leadership visits like this are so important for our command,” said Webb. “It’s great to demonstrate our various weapon systems, but more importantly Gen. Clarke really wanted to have time with our Air Commandos and learn more about them and their missions.”

Throughout the day Gen. Clarke met countless Airmen from across the AFSOC enterprise all working toward the same goal, providing specialized airpower that’s capable across the spectrum of conflict, said Smith. “What I believe Gen. Clarke took away from this visit is AFSOC’s humble competence and contribution to the joint fight.”

Clarke offered his opinion about the Airmen he met.

“I have seen so many heroes in AFSOC,” said Clarke. “You have great leaders in this community because you all follow the examples of your top leadership and you have outstanding people here. Thank you for what you’re doing and continue to do. I hope you continue to contribute and serve in this community.”