SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski took command of Fifteenth Air Force from Maj. Gen. Chad P. Franks during a change of command ceremony at Shaw Air Force Base, August 13.Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, presided over the ceremony.
“Maj. Gen. Franks grew Fifteenth Air Force into an organization that has 13 wings, 47,000 Airmen and over 600 aircraft, and a joint task force that has been engaged for months, executing our nation's COVID response with over 1 million vaccinations,” said Kelly. “By any measure merit, his performance of Fifteenth Air Force during this unprecedented chapter of change in itself has been unprecedented.”
“Within Fifteenth Air Force, you find the preponderance of this great nation’s combat air power sitting behind me.” Kelly stated, alluding to the aircraft on static display behind him. “They’re all sustained and operated by 47,000 of the finest sons and daughters that our nation has ever produced. It is a huge, huge scope of responsibility.”
Additionally, Kelly expressed how Kochanski’s leadership and experiences will complement Fifteenth Air Force as it continues forward.
“When it came time to find a new Fifteenth Air Force Commander, I provided the Air Force general officer’s group with one name: Michael Koscheski,” Kelly continued. “[Koscheski] has led at every level from squadron, to group, to Combat Air Expeditionary Wing, the major command staff, and the Pentagon staff.”
“Just like our Fifteenth Air Force founding Airmen, we will get after our problem sets through innovation and continuous improvement,” said Koscheski. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Franks will retire in December after 31 years of military service. He not only thanked his family and Fifteenth Air Force Airmen during the ceremony, but addressed them in a farewell commentary.
“My last duty as the Fifteenth Air Force commander is to say ‘thank you’,” Franks said. “To the 15th Air Force staff, you are an amazing group of warriors that punched way above your weight. You led a total force unit to accelerate the Air Force’s first ever JTF capable headquarters that vaccinated over 1 million of our fellow Americans and I was honored to be a part of your team.”
The change of command was also the last official event for Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin Hedden as the outgoing Fifteenth Air Force command chief and the first official event for Chief Master Sgt. Sonia Lee as the incoming command chief. Hedden will become the next U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa command chief.
Fifteenth Air Force also prepares its subordinate commands to prepare for and execute expeditionary taskings. In total, Fifteenth Air Force commands 13 wings and three direct reporting units in the Southeastern U.S., ensuring the operational readiness of more than 600 aircraft and 47,000 active duty and civilian members.