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Embrace the change

Brig. Gen. Bryan Fox, Monatana Air National Guard commander, addresses a group of 120th Airlift Wing Airmen prior to the September Unit Training Assembly Sept. 6, 2014. 
(National Guard photo/Tech Sgt. Michael Touchette)

Brig. Gen. Bryan Fox, Monatana Air National Guard commander, addresses a group of 120th Airlift Wing Airmen prior to the September Unit Training Assembly Sept. 6, 2014. (National Guard photo/Tech Sgt. Michael Touchette)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- The Airmen of the 120th Airlift Wing are familiar with change.

Most of the unit's members have memories of conversions from the F-16 Falcon to the F-15 Eagle, then within a few short years a conversion to the C-130 Hercules.

With the conversion to the C-130 came a number of other changes; a new mission, a new major command and enlisted flight crew members walking on base in flight suits.

But, as the old saying goes: Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine.

And, the 120th Airlift Wing has more changes coming.

Last month, Col. J. Peter Hronek, the Wing's long-time commander, announced he was being reassigned to Joint Forces Headquarters in Helena, Montana, in March of 2015.

"Last month the Adjutant General was here and he announced that we're going to bring Col. Hronek down to JFHQ," said Brig. Gen. Bryan Fox, Commander of the Montana Air National Guard.

"I know you all would like to keep him here," Fox said. "However, he's been the wing commander going on six years and it's time to bring him to Helena and give him some new leadership opportunities.  We can also give all of you some new leadership opportunities."

Hronek also announced Vice Wing Commander, Col. Donna Loomis, would be transferred to the JFHQ and will be replaced by Col. Thomas Mora.

"Col. Loomis will be the new J-5/7, which is the director of strategic plans, programs and exercises," Fox said.

Loomis' transfer to her new position takes place this December.

"I think our future is very bright," Loomis said. "We live in challenging times and we need to keep our focus strategically, not just the near term, but the long term." 

Hronek's replacement, however, has not yet been named. The leadership of the Montana Air National Guard is taking an unconventional approach and searching for someone from the active-duty force.

"The Adjutant General mentioned that the next wing commander is going to be a Title 10 active-duty individual," Fox said.

Hronek said that with over 60 percent of Air Mobility Command's units being Guard or Reserve it makes sense to bring in an active-duty person as the next wing commander.

"We have an opportunity here to bring someone in and let them be impressed," Hronek said. "I want to shape that person who is going forward as a one star, two star or three star to go 'I now get it.' They need to live our world a little bit."  

Leadership sees the move as a positive for the future of the 120th Airlift Wing and the Montana Air National Guard.

"Being new to the AMC community, we need to have advocates out there and we haven't had the time to build advocacy, so this will give us an opportunity to bring an active-duty commander in and impress them," Loomis said.

"We are going to be able to demonstrate to the active duty how much we believe in the total force concept," Fox said. "The active duty is going to get smaller, which means the Guard is going to get bigger, and we are going to have to come together as one."
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