Alaska Air National Guard commander promoted to brigadier general
By Sgt. Edward Eagerton and Capt. John Callahan, 176 Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 02, 2014
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Alaska Air National Guard promoted Timothy O'Brien, assistant adjutant general-Air of the Alaska National Guard and commander of the Alaska Air National Guard, to the rank of brigadier general in a ceremony at the Arctic Warrior Events Center here Sunday, March 2.
"The Alaska Air National Guard consists of well over 2,000 citizen-Airmen of which I'm immensely humbled to lead and extremely proud to serve," O'Brien said.
As the commander of the Alaska Air National Guard, O'Brien ensures that training and equipping objectives are met for both of Alaska's Air National Guard wings: the 176th Wing, based at JBER; and the 168th Air Refueling Wing; based at Eielson Air Force Base.
O'Brien enlisted in the California Air National Guard in 1985 while attending graduate school at California State University East-Bay in Hayward, Calif. After completing Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, he was assigned to the 561st Air Force Band of the California Air National Guard.
After completing graduate school in 1988, O'Brien received his commission as a second lieutenant and was assigned to the California ANG's 129th Rescue Wing as a student pilot. In 1989 he graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training in Fort Rucker, Ala., and began his career flying rescue helicopters.
His career would take him from California to Alaska, where in 1992 he joined the Alaska Air National Guard as a full-time pilot with the 176th Wing's 210th Rescue Squadron. Over the next 10 years O'Brien would be credited with 109 lives saved while flying rescue missions over Alaska, and would participate in operations Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Provide Comfort and Desert Storm, among others.
In 2002 O'Brien accepted a staff assignment at National Guard Bureau headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he would serve until 2005. During this time he deployed as a combat rescue pilot to Afghanistan to augment his former unit, the 210th Rescue Squadron. He was then selected to attend the War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., graduating in 2006 with a Master of Science in Strategic Studies.
In 2006 O'Brien returned to Alaska, accepting a command tour of the 210th Rescue Squadron. Under his leadership the 210th Rescue Squadron would deploy for six months to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. In 2009, his unit received a grade of "excellent" on a Pacific Air Forces operational readiness inspection of the 176th Wing.
During the fall of 2009, O'Brien was selected to be the first-ever Air National Guard commandant of the U.S. Air Force Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base. There, he was instrumental in forming the framework for the dual-status command of the combined active- duty Air Force and Air National Guard mission.
In 2011, he returned once more to Alaska when he assumed command of the 168th Air Refueling Wing at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks. After serving two years in command there, he was appointed as the assistant adjutant general-Air in 2013 and returned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
"This promotion is very meaningful to me and my spouse, Catherine," he said. "I'm thankful for the trust and faith our leadership has in me."