SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- In an ceremony on the flight deck of USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Aug. 2, Vice Adm. Michael D. Malone relieved Vice Adm. John B. Nathman as Commander Naval Air Forces, and Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMNAVAIRPAC).
The guest speaker, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark, spoke about the important role AIRPAC plays in combat readiness.
"As the lead type commander for air warfare, this organization is key to the current and future readiness of naval aviation," the CNO said. "You are setting the standards for mission flexibility, quickness, and effectiveness. You are challenging the assumptions and asking the tough questions facing the naval aviation community. The hard work done here is essential to mission success and victory half a world away."
CNO also spoke about how important naval aviation is to the Navy.
"Naval aviation is critical to our ability to influence events on land, defend our country and win in combat, and that capability is realized everyday through your outstanding performance in the war on terrorism," said Clark. "Without Navy air, we're like any other Navy."
During his remarks, Nathman addressed the citizens of the San Diego community, the Naval Air Forces headquarters staff and commanding officers of the Naval Air Force.
"This community's support runs both deep and wide and goes far beyond cheerleading while we do our job at sea. We are keenly aware of the long-term and significant efforts this community makes on our behalf," Nathman said.
In remarks to his staff, he addressed the important work they do.
"Your product is the combat readiness of the Naval Air Force. None of this is possible without your every day endeavors and the human industry of this staff to make a difference. You have done so and I am honored to have worked along side with you."
Nathman also spoke of the leadership displayed by his commanding officers.
"As I look at the Naval Air Force," Nathman said, "I see our men and women with that certain hard edge. That edge is honed by your leadership and commitment; not to survive but rather to thrive in the toughest business around."
During his remarks to his commanding officers, Nathman emphasized how proud he was of their contributions to national security. "You serve our country. You excel in the air. You make a difference."
Malone becomes the 40th Commander of the Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. He reported from duty as Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, headquartered in Norfolk, VA. In his remarks during the ceremony, he spoke of the challenge facing naval aviation.
"The CNO's commitment to readiness has put us in the forefront of in the global war on terrorism," he said. "Our carriers and airplanes have demonstrated naval aviation's great strength, the ability to provide presence, power and persistence. Our challenge now is to maintain readiness while recapitalizing our force for the future."
Nathman will report to Washington D.C. as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Warfare Requirements and Programs (OPNAV N7), in the Pentagon.
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