Van Ovost was promoted to general earlier that day, making her the fifth female four-star general in Air Force history. With Miller’s retirement after 39 years in service, Van Ovost is also now the only woman in the Air Force with four stars.
“There is no one more qualified and ready to take the reins of Air Mobility Command than Jackie,” Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown said at the ceremony. “We take great comfort in knowing you and your airmen are ready to execute global reach, faster, farther and better than ever before.”
She now oversees the Air Force command responsible for its airlift, air refueling, air mobility support and aeromedical evacuation. AMC has a fleet of about 1,074 aircraft and nearly 107,000 total force airmen and civilian employees.
Van Ovost was previously AMC’s deputy commander. Before that she served as the Air Force’s director of staff at the Pentagon, where she advised leadership on diversity and inclusion efforts. She graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1988, and is a command pilot with more than 4,200 hours flying more than 30 aircraft such as the C-17, C-32 and KC-135.
“From the flight line to the front line, from the cockpit to the clinic, we will develop leaders of character with a natural bias for action and a competitive, curious and innovative mindset,” Van Ovost said at the ceremony. “We will grow airmen who are resilient, multi-capable and digitally adept — instinctively exploiting advances in data, computing and information technologies — and armed with the specific skills to deliver into the future.”
Brown saluted Miller for her two years of leadership at AMC, during which time she shifted the command’s focus to the new National Defense Strategy, preparing for a future of competition with peer and near-peer adversaries.
Brown also praised her for quickly adjusting AMC operations during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. For example, AMC developed the Negatively Pressured Conex that allows up to 28 patients with COVID-19 or other highly infectious diseases, as well as medical professionals, to be safely transported in a C-17.
“By leveraging innovation and a whole lot of resolve, Air Mobility Command answered the nation’s [COVID-19] call, generating and flying our most critical missions while also safeguarding our airmen and families,” Brown said. “Air Mobility Command delivered millions of COVID-19 test swabs around the world.”
Miller received the Distinguished Service Medal at the ceremony, and thanked the airmen she commanded.
“To the Air Mobility airmen around the world, thank you for the work you do every day to fortify our national security,” Miller said. “You serve at the heart of this nation. You inspired me. Each and every day of my command, I was driven. I was driven by your excellence.”
[Editor’s note: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that this is the first time an Air Force major command had back-to-back female commanders. It is not, and the story has been corrected.]
Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.