Weather agency under new leadership

  • Published
  • By Ryan Hansen
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
The men and women of the Air Force Weather Agency are under new leadership following a change of command here April 20.

Col. Robert L. Russell, Jr., assumed command from Col. John D. Murphy during a ceremony outside the Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Moorman building, AFWA's headquarters.

"Thank you very much for this opportunity to command this great unit," Colonel Russell said. "To the men and women of the Air Force Weather Agency ... I will do everything in my power to ensure you have the right tools, training, resource and leadership to accomplish the very diverse mission set that we have to perform each and every day as an organization."

Colonel Russell moves into the position from AFWA's A-staff where he was director of strategic plans and programs since June 2008.

"It's been my great pleasure the last year and a half to work with each and every one of you," Colonel Russell said. "It will now be my great honor and privilege to serve as your commander."

Maj. Gen. Marke F. Gibson, the Air Force's director of operations and deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, presided over the ceremony and officially welcomed Colonel Russell to his new position.

"The warfighter focus of AFWA will continue to be crucial to future success which makes Bob Russell the perfect choice to take the stick as AFWA's next leader and commander," General Gibson said. "It's clear his focus has been on supporting our warfighters ... and that's where it needs to remain."

Colonel Russell was commissioned into the Air Force in 1990 and has served in many capacities around the world including stops at the Pentagon and with the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. He's also commanded the 10th Combat Weather Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., served as the weather operations officer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and has been the senior weather officer for both the Air Force and Army Special Operations Commands.

"He brings a wealth of leadership and combat experience from his many assignments," General Gibson said. "His time of running the AFWA's A5/A8 shop gives him a great head start on running this organization. I'm confident that (he is) up to this new challenge and will deliver."

The new commander said he was impressed to see all the representatives from across Team Offutt, the various state and local officials as well as the many former Air Force weather members that attended the ceremony from across the United States.

"It tells me very clearly that we are doing something right ... and that our focus is on the right stuff," Colonel Russell said. "I promise to do my best to keep that focus ... and I thank you again for this opportunity and I look forward to serving with you."

Colonel Murphy now heads across base to U.S. Strategic Command where he will be the deputy political advisor. He has commanded AFWA since March 2008 and leaves with fond memories.

"I will always remember the men and women of AFWA," Colonel Murphy said. "With my gratitude, the men and women of AFWA ... have maintained a laser focus on being responsive to those who depend on us while solidifying our relevance to the warfighter and this nation. They have shown such endeavor and willingness to put themselves in positions far beyond their calling and they've done all that I've asked and far more."

AFWA is comprised of more than 1,400 active-duty members, civil service employees and contractors at 14 operating locations around the world. They provide centralized weather products and services, including climatological and space weather support, to Air Force, Army, special operations, the intelligence community and other Department of Defense activities.