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Wing’s new vice commander looks forward to Cape launches, Space Coast life

Patrick AFB, Fla. -- The new vice commander of the 45th Space Wing, Col. Rory Welch, has hit the ground running at Patrick AFB and Cape Canaveral AFS. He isenthusiastic about the wing's future and its importance to the Air Force, the nation and the Space Coast. Colonel Welch came to the 45th Space Wing by way of MacDill AFB, where he was the Plans Division Chief in the Strategy, Plans, and Policy Directorate, Headquarters U.S. Central Command. He led a team of 55 joint and coalition personnel to develop and maintain strategic planning guidance, staff estimates, as well as campaign, contingency and functional plans for the CENTCOM area of responsibility. His career includes command of a space operations squadron; several tours operating a variety of satellite, missile and national space systems; as well as a combat deployment to Iraq.

He has also served in joint plans, programming, budgeting, operational test, strategy, and policy staff positions at Headquarters Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office, and Headquarters Air Force Space Command. Colonel Welch is looking forward to applying his extensive background to oversee payload processing and launch operations from The World's Premier Gateway to Space.

As 45th Space Wing vice commander, Colonel Welch is responsible for the processing and launching of U.S. government and commercial satellites from Cape Canaveral. He will serve as a Launch Decision Authority with final approval for launches on the Eastern Range. 

He also leads more than 2,000 professionals, assigned to operating locations in Florida, Ascension and Antigua, and additional Airmen deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. "The wing's mission is One Team ... Delivering Assured Space Launch, Range and Combat Capabilities for the Nation. We must never forget that includes our Airmen's support of combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else we may be in harm's way," he said. Colonel Welch and his wife Nancy have been married for 20 years, and have two children, Ryan and Lauren. "We're glad to be a part of the Patrick community," he said. "We're thrilled to be part of the future of the Space Coast and all the exciting opportunities this region offers: professional, educational, historical and recreational."