by 1st Lt. Stacey Fenton
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
6/18/2012 - F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- The commander of Air Force Global Strike Command's 20th Air Force and U.S. Strategic Command's Task Force 214 will retire Sept. 1 after more than 34 years of service. The retirement and the change-of-command ceremony will take place June 22.
Maj. Gen. C. Donald Alston has been in command since July 2010.
As the 20th Air Force commander, Alston is responsible for the nation's intercontinental ballistic missiles, including three operational ICBM wings at F. E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont; a critical squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., responsible for missile targeting and the Airborne Launch Control System; and the 9,600 people who perform the mission of nuclear deterrence every day. As the Task Force 214 commander Alston is responsible for providing the commander of U.S. Strategic Command a secured, on-alert ICBM leg of the nation's nuclear forces.
Alston said the state of the ICBM force is strong today because of the quality of the men and women who ensure the compliance culture of AFGSC.
"We've got hundreds of disciplined teams performing exacting procedures every day. We can't afford to just get most of those procedures right; we need to get all of them right, all the time," he said. "And the key is to guard against complacency with individual personal commitment and engaged effective leadership practicing our core values."
When asked about any unfinished business as he leaves command Alston said, "As we expected, our on-going efforts to improve experience levels in certain areas will take time. But as those efforts move along we are continuing to improve the quality of our training across the force and that work improves the daily preparation that goes into accomplishing each day's workload. When you've got the most dedicated Airmen that the nation has to offer in this vital mission area, everything is possible, and they prove it constantly."
He received his commission from the United States Air Force Academy in 1978. Alston grew up in Watervliet, N.Y., about eight miles north of Albany. His father suggested he consider the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, located about 90 miles to the south, but Alston went in a different direction and pursued an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Alston said he did not always know he would make the Air Force a career, but he couldn't see himself doing anything else.
"The Air Force never gave me a reason to leave," he said. "Honestly, I have always been amazed at how much responsibility I was given at every level and how accountable I was to do it right. I thrived on it. What got me out of bed every day was how much others were depending on me."
Alston said this most recent assignment was his favorite. "We have lived in several great communities, but we have grown really attached to Cheyenne. We know it will be a great place to take off the uniform and start writing the next chapters in our lives.
"It has been an honor to be the 19th commander of 20th Air Force. I am passionate about this mission and especially the elite professionals who work so hard to manufacture deterrence every day. I only have to look around 20th AF units to get inspired; I see it everywhere. There is no more important mission in the Department of Defense than the mission of 20th AF, and I truly hope every last one of my special 9,600 teammates knows it."
Alston and his family are excited about the transition to retirement, and plan to stay in Cheyenne area.