Wednesday’s event was an assumption-of-command ceremony rather than a formal change-of-command ceremony. Lt. Gen. Shaun Q. Morris, AFLCMC’s previous and fourth commander, retired in November. A hold on higher-level military promotions by Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville temporarily prevented Shipton from assuming command. That hold was lifted in early December.
Morris was not physically present Wednesday but attended the ceremony virtually.
Shipton is already making an impact. One of her first acts in late December was to fire Col. Christopher Meeker, the former commander of the 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander at Wright-Patterson. She named Col Travis Pond, once Meeker’s deputy, interim commander.
At the time, Shipton said she had lost confidence in Meeker’s ability to lead, which is typical military language in these decisions. No rationale beyond that was given. On Wednesday, she declined to say more about that decision.
The three-star general did say, however, that the base’s relations with the Dayton area are important to her.
“As a matter of fact, one of the key priorities as I walk into the new role is to ensure that we keep that community focus,” Shipton said. “In fact, we’re actually looking to do a lot more hiring on our civilian positions in the coming year. And we’re looking forward to having a career fair in Dayton on March 13.”
She is AFLCMC’s first female commander.
Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command — which is headquartered at Wright-Patterson, like AFLCMC — welcomed Shipton as eminently qualified to tackle a huge job, overseeing Air Force weapons and logistics imperatives from cradle to grave.
“You have a really deep background,” Richardson told Shipton during the ceremony. “I don’t know how you got all of this done over the course of your career.”
In her previous position, Shipton worked at the Pentagon, serving as the military deputy within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. In that role, she was responsible for research and development, test, production, product support and modernization of Air Force programs worth more than $60 billion annually.
As AFLCMC commander, Shipton leads an organization responsible for the life cycle management of nearly all Air Force material goods — aircraft, engines, munitions, electronics, computer, network, cyber and combat support systems.
The center oversees a budget of $310 billion, and employs more than 30,000 Airmen, civilian and contractor employees working in some 70 locations around the world.
Shipton and her family are familiar with Wright-Patt and the Dayton area. She has served three assignments here and has studied at the Air Force Institute of Technology.