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Two wing groups get new commanders

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska ? Lt. Col. Mark Hedlund from the Joint Forces Headquarters, Alaska, Alaska Air National Guard on Fort Richardson accepts the command of the 176th Maintenance Group, Alaska Air National Guard from Brig. Gen. Charles Foster, commander of the 176th Wing, April 17, 2011. Hedlund recently served as the state director of operations and director of staff and is familiar with the 176th Wing, having previously served as commander of its 144th Airlift Squadron, deputy commander of its 176th Operations Group, and in a variety of other roles. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Lt. Col. Mark Hedlund from the Joint Forces Headquarters, Alaska, Alaska Air National Guard on Fort Richardson accepts the command of the 176th Maintenance Group, Alaska Air National Guard from Brig. Gen. Charles Foster, commander of the 176th Wing, April 17, 2011. Hedlund recently served as the state director of operations and director of staff and is familiar with the 176th Wing, having previously served as commander of its 144th Airlift Squadron, deputy commander of its 176th Operations Group, and in a variety of other roles. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska ? Lt. Col. Patty Wilbanks accepts the command of the 176th Mission Support Group, Alaska Air National Guard from Brig. Gen. Charles Foster, commander of the 176th Wing, April 17, 2011. Wilbanks was previously the commander of the 176th Maintenance Group and several of other units within the wing throughout her thirteen years serving in the Alaska Air National Guard. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Lt. Col. Patty Wilbanks accepts the command of the 176th Mission Support Group, Alaska Air National Guard from Brig. Gen. Charles Foster, commander of the 176th Wing, April 17, 2011. Wilbanks was previously the commander of the 176th Maintenance Group and several of other units within the wing throughout her thirteen years serving in the Alaska Air National Guard. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Two of the 176th Wing's four groups -- the 176th Maintenance Group and the 176th Mission Support Group -- received new leadership in change of command ceremonies held here Sunday, April 17.

Lt. Col. Mark Hedlund was tapped to lead the Maintenance Group. That organization's former commander, Lt. Col. Patty Wilbanks, will move over to command the Mission Support Group.
Maintenance

With about 400 members, the Maintenance Group is the second largest of the Wing's four groups (trailing only the 600-member 176th Operations Group). It comprises the 176th Maintenance Squadron, the 176th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and the 176th Maintenance Operations Flight. Together, these units ensure the wing's ability to project air power when and where needed.

Hedlund, the group's new commander, most recently served as the State Director of Operations and Director of Staff at the Alaska National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters on Fort Richardson. He is intimately familiar with the 176th Wing, having previously served as commander of its 144th Airlift Squadron, deputy commander of its 176th Operations Group, and in a variety of other roles. He is also familiar with maintenance, having served the Alaska and Nevada air national guard organizations as a mechanic before earning his officer's commission in 1990.

"The wing's operations tempo is higher than it's ever been, and we don't see that changing," Hedlund said. "We will overcome that challenge by looking to the Air Force Core Values - Integrity, Service, and Excellence - to continually inform and guide our actions and decisions. We will continue to emphasize a team approach, not only within the group itself but in relation to our new active-duty partner units, with whom we work side-by-side every day."

Mission Support

The 176th Mission Support Group has just under 400 members. It comprises the 176th Civil Engineer Squadron, the 176th Logistics Readiness Squadron, the 176th Security Forces Squadron, the 176th Force Support Squadron, and the 176th Communications Flight - units that provide the wide range of capabilities necessary to support the wing's flying missions.

"I am so proud to be asked to lead these men and women," said Wilbanks, who, upon being named Maintenance Group commander in 2007, became the first woman to command an Alaska Air National Guard group. "Their dedication and expertise is what makes everything this wing does possible. Coming from maintenance, I can tell you that what we achieved would not have been possible without their support."

The Mission Support Group's former commander, Col. Bob Doehl, will move to the wing's Program Integration Office, where he will continue to develop the plans and agreements necessary to ensure the 176th Wing's long-term success at JBER.
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