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September 14, 2012

Team Luke welcomes new commander

Luke Airmen welcomed a new wing commander Wednesday morning, as Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein took command of the 56th Fighter Wing from outgoing commander Brig. Gen. JD Harris.

Rothstein, a command pilot with more than 2,500 hours in various aircraft including the F-16, comes to Luke from Misawa Air Base, Japan, where he served as commander of the 35th Fighter Wing.

He is accompanied by his wife, Jennifer, and their three sons: Seth, 13; Burke, 11; and Jackson, 7.

“Jenn and the boys and I are thrilled to join this community,” Rothstein said in a speech at the ceremony. “To the men and women of the 56th Fighter Wing, thank you for what you do to make this an outstanding wing each and every day. Everything I’ve seen in my first few days here has reinforced the world-class reputation you have, and I look forward to serving with you.”

Rothstein said his focus as a commander is very straightforward and along three fronts: mission, leadership and community.

“First, we have to be ready for our mission,” he said. “We’ve got to produce world-class F-16 pilots, we’ve got to produce world-class maintainers and world-class intelligence professionals, and also be ready to support the ongoing combat operations downrange. That will not change.”

His second focus area, he said, is leadership.

“I believe that leadership is vitally important to all we do, so we will focus on that,” Rothstein said. “We have to develop our officers, our enlisted and our civilian leaders and make them great at what we do.”

Rothstein said his third focus area will be community.

“We’ve got to pitch in and make Luke Air Force Base a great community, both inside the gate and outside the gate,” he said. “We’ve got to take care of each other and our families. We’ve got to have great relations with our downtown partners at all levels and uphold that legacy which is Luke Air Force Base.”

The ceremony was officiated by Gen. Edward Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command.

“Brigadier General Rothstein has accomplished everything of significance that you can do operationally in (the F-16),” Rice said. “He is not only a premier aviator, but he deeply understands the art and the science of applying combat airpower.”

The 56th Fighter Wing change-of-command ceremony was Wednesday in Hangar 913. Brig. Gen. JD Harris relinquished command to Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein.

Rice praised Rothstein’s record as wing commander at Misawa, noting his experience with crisis management.

“Every wing commander had better be prepared to lead crisis management, because you never know what will take place on your watch,” he said. “This is another area where Brigadier General Mike Rothstein has a proven track record of success, as he led his previous wing during a support operation after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last year.”

Rice also had high praise for Luke’s outgoing commander, commending Harris for his tenure as commander of the 56th Fighter Wing and presenting him a Legion of Merit for his service.

“By any measure and by every measure, the impact JD Harris has had on this wing both inside the fence with the mission and outside the fence with the community has been consistent with the highest traditions of integrity, service and excellence, and I congratulate him on a job very well done,” Rice said.

Under Harris’ command, the wing was awarded the 2011 AETC Commander-in-Chief’s Installation Excellence Award. The wing earned an “Excellent” on the 2011 Unit Compliance Inspection and an “Outstanding” on the 2011 Health Services Inspection. Luke was also selected as the next training base for the F-35 Lightning II.

Harris thanked the community leaders for their support and the men and women of Team Luke for their service.

“To the commanders, superintendents and leadership at all levels, you have answered the call and performed above my highest expectations,” Harris said. “Well done, good and faithful teammates.”

 




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