General welcome

Air Force Chief of Safety Maj. Gen. Andrew Mueller, left, greets new Air Force Inspection Agency Commander Col. Mark B. Pye at the reception following the AFIA change-of-command Friday at Kirtland Air Force Base. Members of Pye’s family stand in the background.

A combat and test pilot with experience leading joint forces has taken command of the Air Force Inspection Agency.

Col. Mark B. Pye accepted command from Col. Glenn T. Harris, who led the agency for 60 days between the departure of former commander Col. Leland Bohannon and Pye’s arrival. Harris will now serve as agency vice commander, the position he had expected to fill in the first place.

The change-of-command ceremony took place Friday at Kirtland Air Force Base. Inspector General of the Air Force Lt. Gen. Anthony J. Rock presided.

Rock said the Air Force Inspection Agency and air power are as important today as ever in the history of the Air Force. Among other accomplishments, AFIA members have recently completed a massive inspection of the Air Combat Command and passed their own inspection.

“You showed us what right looks like,” Rock told them. “You make the seemingly impossible look routine.”

He said Harris would be a “bonus gift” to provide a thread of continuity and agency knowledge.

“Glenn, you’ve done a great job, not just as vice, but as commander for 60 days,” Rock said.

When it came to choosing a commander, Rock said, he needed someone with operational breadth, technical knowledge and credibility. Pye has all of those qualities, he continued.

Pye most recently served as vice commander of the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The wing tests fighters, bombers, space vehicles and remotely piloted aircraft, and develops and evaluates tactics in electronic combat, armament, avionics and aircrew training devices.

Pye graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1994, flew KC-10 Extenders and became an instructor pilot. He was selected for the B-2 Spirit of America bomber program and later served as a test pilot for B-52 Stratofortresses.

He’s flown numerous combat missions. Pye also completed several levels of professional military education, and led a joint forces unit in combat.

“I’m humbled by your trust and honored to be a part of this critical mission for our Air Force,” Pye said at the ceremony.

Pye also assured AFIA members that he trusts them.

“At its core, AFIA collectively reflects the mind and heart of every Airman,” he said.

From the beginning of the Air Force, Pye said, members have always looked for better ways to do things and standardized what worked so more Airmen could live to fight another day.

Today, threats are growing and time to respond is shrinking, he said, adding that the Air Force must always be ready when called.

“You all have a role in this and your are the experts,” Pye told AFIA members.

He promised to give them the support they needed to achieve their personal and professional goals.

“Yes, you have my trust,” Pye said, “And it is my sincere hope that along the way, I will earn yours.”