Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh became the service’s 20th chief of staff Friday during a ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md.

Welsh takes over for Gen. Norton Schwartz, who retires after 39 in the Air Force. Schwartz officially retires from service Oct. 1.

“This day brings us back to our foundation and it inspires and beckons our airmen to live out our core values: Integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do,” Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said.

As chief of staff, Welsh is responsible for the organization, training and equipping of 690,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces serving in the United States and overseas.

“We have to shape the future and that will require innovative thinking , different approaches to problems and it will require modernization,” Welsh said. “The only bottom line in this business is performance. No one will care how well we treated our people if we lose the next war.”

Welsh is a command pilot with more than 3,300 flight hours on F-16s, A-10s, T-37s and TG-7As, according to the Air Force.

Welsh was commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe before becoming chief of staff. He was responsible for an area of operations including 51 countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

“I’m also thrilled to have the opportunity to welcome Mark Welsh back to Washington and back to work here,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said. “I was honored to work with Mark when he served as my principal military adviser at the CIA and I look forward to continuing that partnership as he begins his new job.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey took time during the ceremony to praise Schwartz’s contributions to the Air Force.

“Norty Schwartz has forged an enduring legacy as an airman, mentor and leader,” Dempsey said. “But I believe that the most important of his achievements is that he inspired trust within the Air Force, among his fellow service chiefs, within and across our government and with our allies and partners.”