Sunday, April 15, 2012

188th Fighter Wing change of command in the news

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

Dear visitors, I'm currently in the process to post some related news media stuff, already posted partially by 188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs on their Facebook page. Please enjoy!

New Commander to Lead 188th Fighter Wing

by Heather Lewis
Posted on: 5:29 pm, April 13, 2012, updated on: 05:36pm, April 13, 2012

The 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith will soon have a new commander. Current Vice Commander Colonel Mark Anderson will be the new leader of the Fighter Wing this weekend.

After six years commanding the 188th, Col. Thomas Anderson says he's taking a traditional guardsman position at the Arkansas Air National Guard State Headquarters at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in Little Rock. Col. Anderson says he has two sons and currently commutes to Fort Smith from Conway every day. Although he'll be closer to his family, he says it's a difficult time to leave the Fort Smith base.

"The uncertainty with what we have now, we don't know if we're going to have a flying mission, we don't know if we're going to be flying remote with piloted aircraft, we don't know," says Col. Anderson.

To keep guardsmen off the chopping block in Washington, the Council of Governors, made of up 10 state governors, proposed an alternative to budget cuts, but the Air Force recently rejected that proposal because it didn't meet specific requirements.

"The number of challenges that we've had to overcome and the way we've overcome them during the time I've been here in headquarters, I think is what's made me the most proud of the time I've served here," says Col. Anderson.

"Since I got in this unit, one of the things that has impressed me the most is the support of this community," says Col. Anderson.

Letters continue to reach state representatives about the importance of having the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith. Despite not knowing what will happen, Col. Anderson says the Airmen's moral is still high.

"No matter how difficult the times may be, we've always been able to focus on the job at hand and complete it," says Col. Anderson.

Two formal ceremonies for change of command will take place Saturday at the 188th Fighter Wing base in Fort Smith.


188th Commander Proud Of Community Support

By Jeff Arnold
Times Record
4:05 am - April 14, 2012 — Updated: 10:07 am - April 14, 2012

Col. Tom Anderson addresses the media Friday during a news conference at the 188th Fighter Wing anncouncing the formal change-of-command ceremony scheduled for 1 p.m. today at the base. (Photo by Jamie Mitchell, Times Record)

Col. Tom Anderson will say goodbye today, after 25 years at the 188th Fighter Wing.

Anderson, 188th Wing commander since October 2008, will pass the mantle of leadership to Col. Mark Anderson at a change-of-command ceremony today at 1 p.m. at the 188th’s Ebbing Air National Guard Base.

Tom Anderson, 49, of Conway was assigned to the 188th when he joined the Arkansas Air National Guard in March 1987. He remained a traditional guardsman until 2006 when he was promoted to Wing vice commander and asked to become a full-time member of the 188th.

The full-time status was supposed to be for no more than three years, but six years later, Anderson still commutes more than 250 miles each day to and from work.

When Anderson relinquishes command today, he will return to his role as traditional guardsman and be assigned to Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, with his duties to be assigned at a later date.

With two sons, 8 and 10, Anderson said it was time to get back to Conway and "focus more on family." He is also exploring business opportunities that will keep him close to home.

As Wing vice commander and then commander, Anderson was part of the leadership that oversaw the unit's conversion from the F-16 to the A-10.

In May 2005, the Pentagon recommended that the 188th be stripped of its fleet of F-16s, which would have eliminated at least 700 jobs at the base. A local task force guided by civic leaders appealed to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to reject the Pentagon's recommendation. The commission voted in August 2005 to remove the F-16s from the 188th and replace them with A-10s.

The first A-10s arrived at the 188th in April 2007, and less than a month after completing its conversion from the F-16 to the A-10, the 188th deployed to Afghanistan in March 2010, where the unit met 100 percent of its flight tasks, Anderson said.

As it transitioned to the A-10, Anderson said the 188th was faced with multiple challenges — including fleet-wide wing cracks in the A-10 in late 2008 that left the 188th with one flyable aircraft for a period of time and converting to a newer model A-10.

Despite those challenges, Anderson said the men and women of the 188th performed exceptionally well in the field and during a 2009 inspection that rated the 188th as the top A-10 unit in the U.S. Air Force and in the top 2 percent of units overall.

Although those challenges were met and overcome under his leadership, Anderson said they aren't his accomplishments, but the accomplishments of the men and women of the 188th.

Also instrumental in the success of the 188th has been the high level of community involvement.

While he's most proud of the unit's ability to overcome obstacles, Anderson said one of the most impressive things he's seen since he's been at the 188th is the level of community support.

That support was on full display when BRAC Chairman Anthony Principi visited the 188th while the fate of the unit was being determined in 2005, which Anderson said wasn't lost at all on the chairman.

When the round trips from Conway to Fort Smith end, Anderson said, it's the men and women of the 188th that he'll miss most.

"It's (the 188th) family to me … it always will be family," Anderson said.


188th Fighter Wing sees command shifts

Submitted by The City Wire Staff on Sat, 04/14/2012 - 10:39pm
The City Wire

Col. Thomas Anderson relinquished command of the Arkansas Air National Guard's 188th Fighter Wing to Col. Mark W. Anderson in a formal change-of-command ceremony Saturday (April 14) at Ebbing Air National Guard Base.

Col. Mark Anderson previously served as the 188th's vice commander before taking command of the Flying Razorbacks.

Anderson will oversee all of the 188th Fighter Wing's operations and support functions, as well as manage the full-time force of federal technicians, active Guard and Reserve members and state employees. The 188th consists of approximately 1,000 Airmen. The 188th is equipped with 20 A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthog" aircraft and conducts close-air support, forward air control and combat search and rescue missions.

"I'm energized about the chance to lead this wing and excited about conquering the challenges that lie ahead," Anderson said in a statement. "Those challenges are formidable but they are manageable. Our facilities, airspace, training partnerships and community support are unmatched. But it's the courage, devotion, experience and enthusiasm of our hardworking Airmen that will help us surmount those obstacles and carry us through those challenging times. The 188th has always excelled in the face of adversity and I am confident that will continue."

Along with his experience as vice commander, Col. Mark Anderson has served in a number of different positions at the 188th and during his active duty Air Force career.

Anderson joined the 188th Fighter Wing in 2000. He has flown the F-16 Falcon and the A-10. During his tenure at the 188th, he has functioned in multiple roles, including 184th Fighter Squadron commander, 184th director of operations, wing chief of Safety and vice wing commander. His additional duties have included wing conversion project officer, unit compliance inspection project officer and operational readiness inspection project officer.

A command pilot, Anderson has more than 4,000 hours military flight time in the T-37, T-38, OV-10, F-16 and A-10. Upon completion of pilot training in 1987, he was assigned to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., as a forward air controller. At Shaw he flew the OT-37 and OV-10.

During his active duty career he served as a flight commander, wing chief of training, assistant director of operations and director of operations, functional check pilot, mission commander and instructor pilot.

Col. Pete Gauger was promoted to colonel and elevated to the position of 188th Fighter Wing vice commander during the ceremony, which also included a 188th Mission Support Group change of command.

Gauger, the former 188th Mission Support Group commander, handed the group's reins to Lt. Col. Tenise Gardner during the event.

"Col. Gauger's ability to solve complex issues with resolve and determination makes him a true asset to this wing," Col. Thomas Anderson, 188th Fighter Wing commander, said in the statement. "Since taking the reins of the Mission Support Group in 2009, Col. Pete Gauger's keen insight, trusted counsel and astute leadership were instrumental in helping the 188th surmount a vast array of challenges. His counsel will without question be an asset to wing leadership as he moves on to his new assignment as the wing's vice commander."

Gauger joined the active duty Air Force in 1979 as an enlisted member in Accounting and Finance. Gauger was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, where he worked in Materiel and Accounts Control for the Comptroller Squadron of Alaska Air Command.

He joined the 188th Fighter Wing in 1985 and served a total of eight years as an enlisted member in the Financial Management (FM) Flight of the Air National Guard before earning a commission as a full-time budget officer in 1992.

Lt. Col. Tenise Gardner assumed command from Gauger.

"As the Mission Support Group says goodbye to an exceptional commander, it welcomes a distinguished and motivated leader ready to author an even brighter future and build upon past successes," said Col. Thomas Anderson, 188th Fighter Wing commander. "Her vast experience in managing challenging predicaments as well as her fortitude, wisdom and vision give her the attributes necessary to excel in her new position."

Gardner joined the 188th Fighter Wing in 1987 as an enlisted member in information management. She served as the 188th Public Affairs information management specialist until 1989 before moving to the 188th Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) Office.

Gardner earned her commission as the 188th Military Equal Opportunity officer in 1991. She became officer-in-charge of 188th MEO in 1998, before being named the 188th Mission Support Group executive officer in 2000. In 2001, Gardner became the wing's telecommunications manager and took command of the 188th Communications Flight.


188th Fighter Wing Welcomes New Commander

Watch video by 4029 TV!

Local politicians and military personnel help the 188th Fighter Wing welcome a new commander. 40/29's Keristen Holmes reports.

(I still try to embed this clip)

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