Gen. Kevin Chilton’s retirement takes effect Tuesday, ending a career that saw him graduate from the Air Force Academy in 1976, go on to fly on three space shuttle missions, and oversee the nation’s nuclear deterrent for more than three years before stepping down from that role last week. The Defense Department leadership and Air Force’s top uniformed officer were on hand at Offutt AFB, Neb., to honor Chilton as he passed the command of US Strategic Command to Gen. Robert Kehler. “[Chilton] has led the way in reforming the management of the nuclear enterprise—overseeing the creation of the Air Force Global Strike Command, providing more training for our nuclear airmen, and restoring the nuclear mission to its proper place of honor,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Jan. 28 change-of-command ceremony. He called Chilton “a tireless, principled, and effective advocate for the New START treaty with Russia—a service for which [President Obama] and I are grateful.” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presided over Chilton’s retirement ceremony. He called Chilton an inspiration and effective leader, who excelled through natural talent and perseverance. (See AFPS report by Jim Garamone) (Chilton’s biography)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.