Col. Bobbi Doorenbos of the Air National Guard 188th Wing has been promoted to a post in Washington, D.C., at the Pentagon, according to Col. Robert “Bobby” Kinney, vice commander of the 188th.
Kinney revealed the departure of the popular commander at the start of his address to the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce First Friday Breakfast on Aug. 4. Doorenbos, whose previous address to the chamber was canceled because of winter weather, was unable to attend on Friday because of weather issues that kept her in Atlanta.
Kinney said it was disappointing for Doorenbos, who came to the 188th in 2015, because “it was her chance to say goodbye and thank you at the same time.”
“So on behalf of her, thank you for your continued support of the 188th Wing. And thank you for the support you’ve given to her as well. She is moving on to other things. She will be promoted next month to Brigadier General.”
As one of the United States Air Force’s first F-16 fighter pilots, Kinney said, “she is an up-and-comer … and you will be seeing other things on the national stage from her soon. Keep your eyes open.”
Doorenbos’ replacement has not been named, Kinney said, but an announcement should be coming “shortly.”
The presentation Doorenbos had planned to give detailed the history, changes, and future of the 188th in Fort Smith. Kinney hailed the division’s 1,003 employees (661 full-time) for running one of few “combined operations” facilities in the U.S. – that is, “side-by-side intelligence experts and flyers sitting next to one another,” Kinney said. “That’s often separated around the country. That’s unique, and we hope to be able to leverage that going forward.”
Kinney also teased a two-story $15.2 million facility coming in the next “three to four years” that will house all operations of the 188th under a single roof.
“We’re slated for groundbreaking next year, and it will take about two years to construct the facility,” Kinney told Talk Business & Politics after the address, adding the facility will be “about 40,000 square feet.”
Along with the future secured facility location, the 188th is hiring, Kinney said. Top opportunities available call for 48 “intelligence analysis” positions; 27 MQ-9 Reaper pilots (the remote piloted aircraft currently used by the division); four sensor operators (SOs); and 20 personnel in cyber and information technology.
The new positions highlight a shift in skill sets from previous versions of the 188th. When the last manned aircraft took off from Ebbing Airfield in June 2014, “in-demand” skills included aircraft maintenance; knowledge of electronic systems as well as engine and fuel systems; hydraulics; fabrication; avionics; aircraft munitions and armament; airfield management; air crew life support; and maintenance data analysis. Future positions will place a higher emphasis on analysis, communications, and technology.
“We provide decision advantage and strike capability to our nation,” Kinney said, adding the 188th has a “domestic mission” as well that includes manpower and other types of support to states and local municipalities. “But our ultimate job is to give our enemies a headache and a midlife crisis and get inside their decision-making to make a decision before they can.”