Hecker assumes command of 19th Air Force

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joshua Strang
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
Maj. Gen. James B. Hecker assumed command of 19th Air Force in a ceremony here June 23.

Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Education and Training Command who presided over the ceremony, spoke to the importance of the 19th Air Force and the opportunity that awaits Hecker.

"All aviators start in the 19th Air Force," Rand said. "If we don't get it right here, how can we expect our Air Force to get it right?"

The 19th Air Force is responsible for the training of aircrews, remotely piloted aircraft crews, air battle managers, weapons directors, Air Force Academy Airmanship programs, and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists to sustain the combat capability of the U.S. Air Force, other services and allies.

Serving as the foundation for all Air Force flying training, the 19th Air Force conducts more than 490,000 flying hours annually, or 44 percent of the Air Force's total flying hours. It includes 19 training locations, with 16 active-duty, Guard and Reserve wings. More than 32,000 people and nearly 1,400 aircraft of 29 different models make up the force.

Hecker said the 19th Air Force consistently provides world-class training so its students are prepared for the demands that lie ahead.

"It's not if we go to war," Hecker said. "Within a year, most of the people we graduate are going to go to war. We owe it to their mothers and fathers, and their daughters and sons, to make sure that they are prepared."

Hecker said their success is largely dependent on Air Force leaders treating their Airmen right.

"As you are putting them through this pressure, and making them the best they can be to go out and lead our nation, you have to make sure that they are also having fun," Hecker said. "The biggest thing is to treat your Airmen with dignity and respect. It all starts at the top."

The assumption of command marked the second celebration of the day for Hecker, as he pinned on major general rank prior to the ceremony.