Lt. Gen. Scott Pleus took command of 7th Air Force on June 12 in a first for the numbered Air Force: a virtual passing of the leadership baton due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As commander of 7th Air Force, Pleus will serve as the deputy commander of U.S. Forces-Korea and oversee USAF operations in South Korea and the northwest Pacific. Pleus took over the top officer job from Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, who was nominated to lead Pacific Air Forces.
“I am so excited to serve the Airmen of 7th AF, our joint partners of USFK and our Korean allies,” Pleus said during the livestreamed ceremony, according to a release. “One of the best parts of being back is the intense feeling of family, the commitment we have to our iron-clad alliance and the 24/7 focus on the fight-tonight-mission in order to deter aggression, defend the ROK and defeat enemy attack against the alliance. Our steadfast commitment forges a common bond between us that leads to deep and lasting friendships and links us together as warriors.”
Pleus, who received his third star in the promotion, previously served as the director of air and cyberspace operations for PACAF. He last worked for 7th Air Force as the commander of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.
He has amassed more than 2,300 flight hours in fighter jets, ran the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., oversaw the Air Force’s F-35 Integration Office, and managed plans and programs for Air Combat Command.
Gen. Robert Abrams, the commander of U.S. Forces-Korea, and PACAF boss Gen. Charles Q. Brown presided over the virtual ceremony.
“[Pleus] is primed to lead 7th AF,” said Brown, who is leaving PACAF to become the next Air Force chief of staff. “He is a servant leader with an impeccable career and flight record in the F-16 and F-35. He is no stranger to the security challenges of the region and particularly the peninsula and the importance of the relationships that are foundational to U.S./ROK alliance.”
Change-of-command ceremonies are one example of military milestones that have moved online while the pandemic makes it unsafe to gather in groups.