Col. Mark Anderson, the officer who oversaw the historic transition of the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith to a unit without a manned flying mission, will soon step down as the commanding officer of the 188th Wing. His replacement will be Col. Bobbi Doorenbos, according to a statement issued Sunday (Dec. 7) by the Arkansas Air National Guard.
Brig. Gen. Dwight Balch, Arkansas Air National Guard commander, made the announcement to 188th Airmen during a Sunday commander's call gathering at Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith. The change of command is set for Jan. 11.
Anderson has served as the 188th Wing commander since April 14, 2012. After the command transition Anderson is expected to serve at the Arkansas National Guard Joint Force Headquarters located at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock.
"It has been an honor to serve as commander for the amazing men and women of the 188th over the past two and a half years," Anderson said in the statement. "We've endured some of the most monumental challenges in unit history. We've overcome some arduous obstacles and I continue to be impressed by the hard work, dedication and sacrifice made by our Airmen and their families to ensure our success. The wing is truly a family and it was a privilege to be a member of the Flying Razorbacks.”
Broad cuts in U.S. defense spending – possibly up to $500 billion over 10 years – included the removal of 20 A-10 Thunderbolt fighter planes from the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith. It was announced in 2012 that the A-10 Thunderbolt fighters of the 188th would be lost and the unit’s mission would change to an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission.
The unit transitioned in June to the new mission.
Overall, the 188th ISR Group will have 347 members, and at some point will operate from a planned $12.5 million, 40,000-square-foot facility to be built on the 188th base that Col. Anderson has said could help the 188th become an “ISR Center of Excellence.” Counting operations, security, medical and other groups, the 188th will have more than 900 personnel who will train and operate from the Air National Guard base in Fort Smith.
The incoming 188th commander has experience with the new 188th mission. She now serves as the commander of the 214th Reconnaissance Group, located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Ariz. As 214th commander, she is responsible for providing combat-qualified MQ-1 Predator aircrews in support of contingency operations overseas, and domestic incident awareness and assessment capabilities in the United States.
"Col. Doorenbos has impeccable credentials and the experience necessary to excel as the new 188th Wing commander," Balch said in the statement. "We believe her leadership and diverse skillsets will continue to fuel a bright future for the 188th as it works to achieve operational status in its new missions.”
Doorenbos said she looks forward to the new command and continuing “the Flying Razorbacks' legacy of excellence.”