Brig. Gen. Brenda Cartier, Air Force Special Operations Command’s first female selected for promotion to the rank of a general officer, was promoted June 14 at a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Florida.
Cartier now serves as AFSOC’s director of operations.
Brig. Gen. David Tabor, Joint Special Operations Command assistant to the deputy commander and assistant commanding general, presided over Cartier’s promotion ceremony.
“When I looked through her record, it was not surprising to me that there were a couple of common threads,” said Tabor. “It would be really tempting to use today as a historic day for AFSOC and talk about all of the many firsts Brenda has been a part of. What really came to me was three constants throughout her career. It comes down to aptitude; she’s really the best at everything she did. The trust that people put in her to lead. And third, really, how articulate she is. And to put it another way, it’s how intelligent she is. This runs throughout her entire career.”
Tabor and Cartier served together in leadership positions at the Air Force Special Operations Warfare Center. Tabor served as the commander and Cartier served as his vice commander. Tabor said Cartier was his number one commander while she was there.
Cartier thanked her family, friends and leadership for supporting her throughout her career progression.
“What I love most about this day is that it highlights the true form of our AFSOC family,” said Cartier. “Being an Air Commando isn’t just a moniker – it’s a way of life – a proud heritage and an everlasting family. Today, I’m so grateful to be joined by my senior AFSOC leaders. Thank you all for being here.”
Tabor offered further comments about Cartier’s keen ability to lead and influence those around her.
“Probably the ultimate trust we put in officers is to put them in charge of people,” said Tabor. “And for most of us, that comes as a squadron commander. For Brenda, it came as the commander of the 4th Special Operations Squadron; the largest flying squadron in AFSOC. This is a tremendous responsibility. When Brenda’s in command, she’s responsible not only for the operational deployment of AC-130s, but she’s also responsible for the schoolhouse and training up all these people. It was a huge job and I would dare say probably one of the highlights of Brenda’s career.”
AFSOC’s senior leaders, both officers and enlisted personnel, attended the promotion ceremony.
“To my fellow Air Commandos, today is about our team,” said Cartier. “Nobody stands up here at a ceremony like this without an extraordinary team of Air Commandos alongside her. Through training, through combat, through the lives and deaths of our AFSOC family; just as all of our aircraft are crew aircraft, so are our lives as Air Commandos, through thick and thin. As I reflected on what today means, the thought of pay it forward consistently came to mind. Being a general officer is about having authority, resources and solemn responsibility to take care of our Airmen; to ensure that you, our future, are the best in the world and ready to take on whatever challenges the world throws our way.”
Tabor said Cartier’s leadership capabilities prepared her for this promotion.
“Her mentorship for the Airmen and her care for people was evident in absolutely everything she did,” said Tabor. “I think that probably a lot of people have experienced that themselves. She has an outsize influence, not only on the Airmen here in AFSOC, but on the entire Air Force in her leadership. She continues to shatter ceilings and if I could, on behalf of all the women in AFSOC and all Air Commandos, thank you for being the best and most trustworthy and most articulate Air Commando that we have. You’ve really earned this promotion.”
Cartier referenced advice she received of paying it forward from recent talks with Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AFSOC and one of AFSOC’s newest officers as her motivation for her new responsibilities.
“In the course of a couple of weeks, I heard the advice of pay it forward from the most senior and junior officers in AFSOC,” said Cartier. “Today, I gladly take on the breadth of responsibility to pay it forward; to give every fiber of my being to the next generation of Air Commandos, to my family and to my friends, thank you.”