ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. (Jul 6, 2011) -- Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Mike Walton wore a version of the Army's uniform for close to 40 years. "It was time to switch teams", he said as he signed in here at Arnold Air Force Base last week as the new Deputy Public Affairs Director.

Walton was scheduled to arrive at the Middle Tennessee base in April of this year. Delays caused by hospitalization for diabetes and the graduation of his oldest child from basic training kept the 53 year old former Soldier from starting his new career as a civilian Air Force public affairs employee.

"What they do here is an incredibly important mission to the Air Force, as they continue to work what I consider to be our center of gravity, which is helping our Airmen do their job," Walton said. "That's something that will never change. The Air Force is about Airmen and their aircraft. It's about their ability to perform and conduct their mission world wide.

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"We couldn't replicate that anywhere else, or it would be very difficult to replicate that anywhere else," Walton said. "In my mind, this is one of the key installations that we have, and it's our only footprint in this area, and that's important, as well, because this is such an important area for the Air Force. I can't foresee any circumstances that would cause us to walk away from it."

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Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) is the most advanced and largest complex of flight simulation test facilities in the world. The complex operates 43 aerodynamic and propulsion wind tunnels, rocket and turbine engine test cells, space environmental chambers, arc heaters, ballistic ranges and other specialized units. Many of the complex's test units have capabilities unmatched elsewhere in the United States; some are unique in the world. AEDC is an Air Force Test Center/Air Force Materiel Command organization and an important national resource.