WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — A historic change of command ceremony took place Monday when General Janet Wolfenbarger passed the flag to General Ellen Pawlikowski.
It marked the first time a female four-star general turned command of Air Force Materiel Command over to another female four star general. Adding to the legacy created inside Kenney Hall at the Air Force Institute of Technology is that Wolfenbarger is the first four-star general in the Air Force and the first to lead AFMC. Pawlikowski is the third.
“We’ve known each other for 20 years,” Pawlikowski said. “The special part of today was to be able to participate in that with General Wolfenbarger. It was kind of nice to have something where I was the second person doing something instead of being the first woman. It’s testament to the Air Force’s efforts to promote diversity.”
Wolfenbarger took over the reigns of AFMC — which conducts research, development, test and evaluation and provides acquisition management services and logistics support to keep Air Force weapons ready for war — in June 2012 and oversaw a large reorganization and restructure. Now Pawlikowski — in her third assignment at WPAFB — will guide one of the Air Force’s most critical divisions as the war on terrorism continues.
“Janet, I love what you’ve done with the place,” Pawlikowski quipped before taking a serious tone. “I think that the Air Force is going to play a lead role in what this country and what the Department of Defense does in combating those risks, those challenges. The challenge for Air Force Materiel Command is to be able to deliver that foundation. We don’t fly without the Air Force Materiel Command.”
Pawlikowski talked about needing an agile Air Force to fight ISIS and threats in Europe and “how important Air Force Materiel Command is to the Air Force being agile.”
“What I think is going to be our big challenge … is to be able to move quickly, to be responsive.” she said. “We are going to be out front. The Air Force and the Air Force Materiel Command needs to be there as the backstop, in enabling those weapon systems to fly and those airmen to be their best.”
Pawlikowski was first assigned to WPAFB from 1997-1999 in the Aeronautical Systems Center. She came back from February 2010 to May 2011 as the commander of Air Force Research Laboratory.
The Bloomfield, N.J., native still has strong affections for the Miami Valley.
“I still have my Carroll High School marching band sweatshirt,” she said, referencing her daughter, who attended the parochial school in nearby Riverside. “I’m very glad to be home. I couldn’t think of a greater opportunity then for me to come back. What I have always found about the Miami Valley, I call it a Disneyland of hometowns. You have so many here.”