US Air Force in the Pacific gets new top commander

AP News
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Posted: Jul 12, 2016 7:30 PM
US Air Force in the Pacific gets new top commander

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AP) — A fighter pilot and former U.S. Air Force commander in South Korea has taken over as the top U.S. Air Force leader in the Pacific.

Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy assumed command of Pacific Air Forces during a ceremony on Tuesday.

Adm. Harry Harris of the U.S. Pacific Command praised O'Shaughnessy for his "strong and measured responses" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un when he led the U.S. 7th Air Force in South Korea.

Harris said the recent deployment of F-22 Raptor jets to the Korean peninsula served as an example of O'Shaughnessy's "understanding of the challenge that exists there and how we can meet it with air power."

"He definitely has the in-theater experience and the right touch needed in this job," Harris told a crowd gathered the ceremony on a field overlooking Pearl Harbor. Harris leads all U.S. troops in the region as the head of the Pacific Command.

O'Shaughnessy previously served as the Pacific Command's director of operations. The 1986 Air Force Academy graduate has more than 3,000 hours of flying the F-16 Falcon, including 186 combat hours over Iraq.

Pacific Air Forces includes airmen and civilians stationed in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Japan and South Korea.

O'Shaughnessy succeeds Gen. Lori Robinson, who took over as the leader of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command in May.

Lt. Gen. Russell Handy of the Alaskan Command and 11th Air Force filled in for the past few months until the Senate confirmed O'Shaughnessy's appointment.

Harris said Handy's operational experience ensured Pacific Air Forces remained focused and ready in the interim.

"Now we're going to send you back to Alaska with some aloha shirts to continue your fine work there," Harris said.

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This story has been corrected to North Korea's leader's name is Kim Jong Un.