AFOTEC gets new commanding general

  • Published
  • By Katherine C. Gandara, Public Affairs Advisor
  • Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center

The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center held a change of command ceremony July 19 at its Headquarters on Kirtland Air Force Base. Brigadier General Michael T. Rawls assumed command of the Center from Major General James R. Sears Jr., in a ceremony presided by Lieutenant General Kevin B. Schneider, Director of Staff, Headquarters United States Air Force.

General Rawls comes to his new command from Maxwell AFB, Ala., where he served as the Commandant of the Air War College. He is a command pilot with more than 2,100 hours in 30 different aircraft.

Lt. Gen. Schneider highlighted how AFOTEC performs critical test and evaluation of new warfighting capabilities. “For more than 40 years, this Center has pressure-tested new systems and capabilities in realistic environments,” said Schneider. “This Center benchmarks and provides assurance that the capabilities we put into the hands of our warfighters will absolutely get the job done.”

Schneider highlighted AFOTEC’s accomplishments under Major General Sears, who is now assigned as the Deputy Commander, Air Education and Training Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas.

“Major General Sears took command of AFOTEC on April 6, 2020 – just three weeks after the initial COVID social-distancing orders began nationwide. To say that time was tumultuous would be an understatement,” said Schneider. “However, as our Chief of Staff General Brown often reminds us, the challenges we faced in the past two years were an accelerator and under Jim’s leadership, AFOTEC did not falter in keeping up with an ever-quickening pace.”

“Taking the task to streamline and eliminate redundancies, General Sears understood the assignment and moved out,” said Schneider. “The U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, U.S. Space Forces Test and Evaluation community, and AFOTEC all came together under a memorandum of understanding to mutually help one another and cut down bureaucratic obstacles…one of General Brown’s top strategic priorities for our entire Air Force.”

“Resilience through a pandemic. Championing new methods and focus areas for the modern world. Driving progress with global partners at this side. General Sears and all of AFOTEC, well done.”

Schneider also discussed the leadership qualities Rawls brings to the organization.

“It can be tough to determine who is best suited to take the reins of a stellar organization. But, when you meet someone like Brigadier General Rawls, you know right away that you have found the right Airman for the job.”

“Air Force leadership has the utmost confidence in his leadership ability and trust that he will continue to take AFOTEC to new heights and knock down barriers to progress,” said Schneider.

General Rawls addressed the members of AFOTEC as he assumed the mantle of commander.

“To the men and women of AFOTEC, I am both honored and humbled as I consider the immense responsibilities inherent in this command,” said Rawls. “It is an awesome privilege to lead this organization. I commit to you that I will do my part to ensure we are ready to fight and win our nations wars, that I will give you the best of my time, attention and effort, and always lead from the front. I am glad to be joining you as we continue to sharpen the pointy end of the spear.”

AFOTEC is a direct reporting unit under Headquarters, United States Air Force. It is the Air Force’s independent test agency responsible for testing and evaluating new capabilities in operationally realistic environments to inform warfighters and influence national resource decisions.