Col. Leon Dodroe, former commander of the 188th Wing in Fort Smith, was promoted to brigadier general and assumed command of the Arkansas Air National Guard. Col. Jeremiah Gentry was promoted to 188th commander.
Dodroe replaced Brig. Gen. Thomas Crimmins who was selected by the U.S. Air Force as senior defense official and defense attaché to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Dodroe enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1993 and served with the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga. In 1995, he was selected for pilot training and received his commission through Officer Candidate School. Upon completion of flight training school in 1996, he was assigned as the Fixed Wing Platoon Leader for the Southern European Task Force at Vicenza, Italy. He has also served in the Arizona Army National Guard, and the U.S. Army Reserve, holding numerous leadership positions before joining the Arizona Air National Guard in 2010.
Dodroe served as the 188th commander since 2019. Under his leadership, the wing was awarded the Meritorious Unit award, and Meritorious Conduct in the Performance of Outstanding Service in direct support of combat operations. He was previously the 188th Operations Group commander and led it to be the most requested MQ-9 Reaper (unmanned aerial vehicle) squadron in theatre.
Col. Gentry is a 21-year combat veteran who served in the active-duty Air Force as an F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II attack pilot before transitioning with the 188th operations group through the MQ-9 conversion.
The Arkansas Air National Guard consists of 1,900 Airmen across two wings in Little Rock (Jacksonville Air Force Base) and Fort Smith (Ebbing Air National Guard Base). Little Rock Air Force Base is the home of the “”HERK,” combining C-130H and C-130J’s as part of an operations and training center for the military transport aircraft.
The 188th’s three primary missions are Remotely Piloted Aircraft (MQ-9 Reaper); Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR); and Targeting (Space-Focused). According to the Air Guard, the unit has an annual impact of $40 million on the local economy. The unit has about 1,000 employees, with around 660 being full-time.
Ebbing was recently selected to be the long-term pilot training center supporting F-16 and F-35 fighter planes purchased by counties participating in the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. It is estimated that 345 U.S. military personnel would be part of the center and an estimated 180-plus members of the Singapore unit and around 300 dependents. Training and aircraft from Finland and Poland may also be part of the FMS site in the future.