?Maj. Gen. Verle Johnston stepped down as commander of the New York Air National Guard and retired after 41 years in uniform, reported the Times Union of Albany. Johnson, a 1974 Air Force Academy graduate, had led the 5,900-member New York Air Guard since 2012. During his command, the organization transitioned from flying C-5s to C-17s and began operating MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft. National Guard officials honored Johnston on June 12 at a ceremony at the state’s Division of Military and Naval Affairs headquarters in Latham, according to the June 21 newspaper report. During his Air Force career, Johnston amassed more than 7,500 flying hours in cargo, tanker, and trainer aircraft. He served six years on Active Duty before transitioning to the Air Guard.
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.