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Ralston Becomes 4th Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 1, 1996 – Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston became the fourth vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during ceremonies here.

In private ceremonies at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary William J. Perry swore in Ralston, who succeeds Navy Adm. William A. Owens. Hours later, Ralston received a welcoming review of armed forces troops at nearby Fort Myer, Va. Ralston said he will support service members in the field and strengthen joint service teamwork.

"Much has been said and written of late about the dramatic changes in the world today that drive what we do and what we get paid for to fight and win our nation's wars," said Ralston. "The challenges we face in carrying out any significant change are formidable, but I know there is only one way to tackle these changes and that is together as a team."

He also expressed his commitment to service members on the front lines. Ralston said he would work hard to ensure they are ready for future challenges. "If we do what is right for them, we will be doing what is best for America," he said.

Perry outlined Ralston's main roles as the vice chairman to oversee military operations and serve as DoD's top uniformed voice in technology and defense acquisitions. Perry said Ralston is "superbly qualified" to continue the Pentagon's charge into the technology revolution.

In describing Ralston's qualifications, Perry spoke of their first project together 19 years ago. Perry was the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering and Ralston was an Air Force project officer.

"We were both trying to launch a highly secret new technology what we called Stealth," said Perry. "We both believed that if it we were successful, we could revolutionize air warfare. He added Ralston's efforts were absolutely critical in Stealth's success, as demonstrated in Operation Desert Storm.

Prior to becoming the vice chairman, Ralston commanded the Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va., a position he had held since June. He also served as the Air Force deputy chief of staff for plans and operations. From 1992 to 1994, he commanded the Alaskan Command and the Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, both at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

Ralston earned his commission through Air Force ROTC at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He holds a master's degree in personnel management from Central Michigan University. He is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College, the National War College and John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Ralston has over 2,500 flying hours, including 147 combat missions over Laos and Vietnam. His awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He also holds the Meritorious Service Medal, 20 awards of the Air Medal and five Air Force Commendation Medals.

He is married to the former Diane "Dede" Dougherty of Wilmette, Ill. They have four children.

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