Col. Bobbi Doorenbos took command of the Arkansas Air National Guard's 188th Wing from Col. Mark W. Anderson in a formal change-of-command ceremony Jan. 11 held at Ebbing Air National Guard Base, Fort Smith. The F-16 fighter pilot is the first female commander of the unit first formed as the 184th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in 1953.
Doorenbos assumed command after serving as the 214th Reconnaissance Group commander for the Arizona ANG at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. There she was responsible for providing combat qualified MQ-1 Predator aircrews in support of contingency operations overseas and domestic awareness and assessment capabilities within the United States. Anderson, a long-time pilot with American Airlines, will return to his position with the company and continue flying.
Brig. Gen. Travis Balch, commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard, presided over the ceremony and lauded the accomplishments of Anderson for his service at the 188th.
Anderson took command of the 188th “Flying Razorbacks” in April 2012. During his time as commander, he successfully mobilized 375 Airmen on a deployment to Bagram, Afghanistan; aided in reassigning 20 A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthog" airframes to their new homes at Moody Air Force Base Georgia, and the 122nd Fighter Wing Indiana Air National Guard in Fort Wayne; and led the wing through a pivotal conversion from a fighter wing to the current missions in remotely piloted aircraft and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, which will also feature a spaced focused targeting squadron.
"A conversion of this magnitude, the largest in the state's history, led by the vision and strategic planning of Col. Anderson, has been phenomenal and the future is going to be bright here,” Balch said. “Thanks to the Airmen of the 188th Wing for embracing that challenge and looking toward the future.”
Anderson stressed that what has inspired him most as a leader has been the Airmen of the 188th and noted that his job has been easy and fun because of the talent, hard-work, vision and leadership of the men and women who served with him here.
Doorenbos was welcomed by Balch as he explained why she was selected to lead the 188th into a new era of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and remotely piloted aircraft excellence.
"I want to thank the state of Arizona and Col. Doorenbos, as this is truly a historic day for the 188th," Balch said. "Bobbi was the first person we interviewed and we were impressed with her from the start. She loves the mission of ISR and the men and women who do that mission. We were also impressed with her background in the national capital region and her work at the National Guard Bureau and her ISR command experience in Tucson. She has been on the forefront of that mission [ISR] and when we added everything up, it was clear to us that we needed her to be the next leader of this wing."
Doorenbos will oversee all of the 188th Wing's operations and support functions as well as manage the full-time force of federal technicians, state employees and active, guard and reserve members. The 188th consists of approximately 1,000 Airmen and is equipped with an urban search and rescue training facility; RED HORSE training capabilities; Detachment 1 Razorback Range; a remote air, zonal operations, reach back-processing assessment and dissemination, or RAZORback PAD, and the unit continues to transition into the new mission sets with state of the art equipment and facilities led by the Airmen here.
Doorenbos thanked the Arkansas leadership for making a non-traditional choice for Arkansas and for taking a chance on her.
"I'm not from here and you don't know me so I'm going to need your help to teach me the things I don't know, and to help me recognize what I don't know," Doorenbos stated. "But I come with fresh eyes, an open mind and without preconceived notions. I come here with a desire to challenge myself to do more, be more and give more. I intend to challenge each and every one of you to do more, be more and give more as well. The work ahead of us is difficult and it will come with challenges and hurdles and frustrations but together I see a future where our joint efforts will pay dividends far greater than any of us ever imagined."
Prior to her time at Davis-Monthan AFB, Doorenbos served as chief, Program Requirements and Integration Division at the National Guard Bureau Plans and Requirements office at Andrews AFB, Maryland. She oversaw the modernization of the Air National Guard's C4ISR, cyber, space, special mission C-130, simulator and battlefield Airman assets, filling critical combat and domestic capability gaps for warfighters and first responders. An F-16 pilot with more than 1,200 hours, she has flown missions in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom, and Southern Watch and has also served in numerous roles at the National Guard Bureau level to include a special advisor to Vice President Joe Biden on defense policy and intelligence programs.
Doorenbos, who will be the 188th’s first female wing commander, said while she understands the historical significance of her hire, she’s more concerned with being the best wing commander she can be.
“If I can be a role model to young females who might not have otherwise thought being a wing commander or pilot was something they could do, I think that’s a positive,” Doorenbos said. “But primarily, I want to help all Airmen achieve their full potential and keep moving the 188th forward as we get closer to being mission capable in ISR and RPA. This is an outstanding wing and I look forward to getting started.”