New Malmstrom boss takes command
Col. Jennifer Reeves spent the last two years overseeing the training of airmen entering the space, missile operations or missile maintenance career fields.
Of the roughly 1,000 airmen that go through the 381st Training Group at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, about a third are sent to the three intercontinental ballistic missile wings.
On Tuesday, Reeves assumed command of the 341st Missile Wing from Col. Ron Allen.
“Now I’m the customer of what I did in my previous position,” Reeves told The Electric after the ceremony.
She said that airmen coming into the Air Force now have different skills than her generation and it was “wonderful” to get into the heads of young people and modernize training.
Knowing how missile operators and maintainers are training, Reeves said she’ll be better able to identify if something isn’t meeting the needs of the mission at the 341st.
“I know I need to speak up” and tell the training unit that change is needed since the mission is the primary objective, Reeves said.
The nuclear deterrence mission is critical, Reeves said, but for years after the Cold War ended, people didn’t think about it much. The airmen at Malmstrom and other ICBM bases, however, have been on continuous alert since the 1960s.
One of Reeve’s priorities as commander will be ensuring the airmen at Malmstrom understand the importance of the mission and their role in that larger security picture.
Reeves was commissioned as an Air Force officer through the ROTC program after graduating from San Diego State University in 1993.
Her parents met in the Air Force. Her mother left as an airman second class, a rank that no longer exists. Her father, a German immigrant, retired as a chief master sergeant after 29 years in the Air Force. Her husband, Larry, is a retired Army colonel who served for 27 years.
“Service is in my blood,” she said.
Reeves said she’s looking forward to getting around the base and meeting the airmen and civilians.
“I simply look forward to being a teammate on this base,” Reeves said.
Reeves has served in positions related to space and nuclear deterrence throughout her career, including positions at U.S. Central Command, U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Northern Command.
Maj. Gen. Frank Stoss, commander of 20th Air Force, Air Force Global Strike Command, hosted the ceremony and welcomed Reeves to Malmstrom.
She is “exceptionally well qualified” to command the wing, Stoss said.
During the ceremony, Allen was presented with the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.
Stoss said Allen assumed command during a time of growth in the nuclear force and that to measure a leader, “you don’t just look at what they’ve done, you look at what the team has done.”
Over the last few years, the 341st Missile Wing has racked up awards, including being named the best maintenance group in the Defense Department and another Blanchard Trophy win.
During his command, Allen was responsible for the largest missile complex in the Air Force. In that time, Stoss said, the wing conducted $2.6 million worth of simulated electronic launches; $1.2 million of operations test launches and fared well in the 2017 Nuclear Surety Inspection. According to Stoss, the inspectors wrote “this is what right looks like.”
Allen said during the ceremony that commanding the 341st have been “the highlight of my life.”