Maj. Gen. Ladnier presides as 449th gets new CC

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti -- The 449th Air Expeditionary Group, one of Seventeenth Air Force's expediationary units, held a change of command ceremony here this morning. Seventeenth Commander Maj. Gen. Ron Ladnier was the senior officer present and guest speaker at the ceremony. The ceremony was the first of its kind for the Air Force since the establishment of U.S. Africa Command in October. 

"Every day, we get stronger, better and more engaged in this continent. As one example, we expect to triple the number of events that we're engaged in for 2010," said Gen. Ladnier, who is responsible for all Air Force activities in 53 African countries over a total of 11 million square miles. The 449th directly supports Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) activities. 

"I think Col. Petrequin represented exactly what the Air Force is about - supporting the mission, not just the sortie," Gen. Ladnier said of Col. Gregory J. Petrequin, who was relieved by Col. John Steven Brunhaver in today's ceremony. "(Petrequin) has been focused on taking care of Airmen so they could accomplish the mission." 

In his remarks, Petrequin said he witnessed a series of firsts for the 449th during his tour. 

"The first combat search and rescue, first civil search and rescue, (the) first time we've exercised Forward Area Refueling Point training. All the flying hours people have done here is pretty incredible stuff," he said. "I can tell you it happened because of the incredible joint team we have here. It didn't happen because of me. As the air component here, we're very proud to have been a part of the HOA mission." 

Petrequin was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his efforts here, prior to passing the 449th's flag to Brunhaven. 

General Ladnier is hoping to see similarly distinguished service in the coming year.
"Colonel Brunhaver is the right guy to follow Col. Petrequin. He has airlift experience and he has command experience. He knows what it means to be a part of the joint team. My advice to him is to take care of the Airmen so they can accomplish the mission," Gen. Ladnier said. 

"I'd like to thank the people here and the staff for welcoming me as the new commander and making me feel welcome," Brunhaver said. "We are here to support the Africa Command and Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa mission. That mission will change while we're here, I guarantee it. 

"I'm here to make sure the Airmen of the 449th and the Airmen of the CJTF-HOA staff have the capability to carry out their missions. We will ensure they have the right training, the right Airmen and the right resources to do the job."

CJTF-HOA employs an indirect approach to counter violent extremism. It conducts operations to strengthen partner-nation and regional security capacity to enable long-term stability, prevent conflict and protect U.S. and coalition interests.