Air Force promotes Col. Yates to general

Darrell Maurina

When Col. Robert Yates leaves Cannon Air Force Base for his new post in Virginia, he’ll carry with him a new title: “brigadier general (select).”
Yates’ name was included on the list of promotions to one-star general released Tuesday morning by the Air Force, and while he won’t get to replace the eagle on his lapels with a star for at least a year and a half, Yates said the promotion will help him do his work at Langley Air Force Base more effectively.
Yates said he expects attaining the rank of general officer will be helpful in his new work.
“Rank is important,” Yates said. “Right now I am slated to become special assistant to the Air Combat Command director of operations. I will probably move up to a more formal position. As a brigadier general, I expect that I will be the right-hand man to the Air Combat Command deputy commander for operations.
“It is a very tough cut to make general officer,” Yates said. “Being a general officer always happens because of the work of good subordinate officers. I would like to say you don’t make rank alone, you make rank because people put you in a position to succeed.”
Yates said he believes factors contributing to his selection as a brigadier general include a number of major awards won by Cannon Air Force Base units during the last few years and the successful performance of Cannon’s personnel in combat operations in and around Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
While unit performance is crucial, Yates said he never could have made his present or future rank without many sacrifices made by his own family. Both Yates and his wife Barb come from families that strongly support the military, and Barb Yates is the daughter of a retired master sergeant. Yates said the experience of growing up in the military helped his wife learn to accept the long hours and hard work needed to rise through the ranks.
Now that the hard work has paid off, Yates said his family’s emotions range from joy to deep gratitude.
“Barb and I are thrilled to death about this; we feel blessed, overwhelmed, we just feel very proud,” Yates said.