News>Colonel Mark Anderson takes command of 188th Fighter Wing
New 188th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Mark Anderson, right, takes the 188th Fighter Wing guide-on from Brig. Gen. Dwight Balch, Arkansas Air National Guard commander, during a change-of-command ceremony April 14. (National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hannah Landeros/188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
Col. Mark Anderson delivers a speech after taking command of the 188th Fighter Wing during a change-of-command ceremony at the 188th April 14. (National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Hannah Landeros/188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
by Maj. Heath Allen
188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
4/14/2012 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- The 188th Fighter Wing said goodbye to an exceptional commander while welcoming another distinguished and motivated leader to take his place.
Col. Thomas I. Anderson relinquished command of the Arkansas Air National Guard's 188th Fighter Wing to Col. Mark W. Anderson in a formal change-of-command ceremony April 14 at Ebbing Air National Guard Base.
"Being the commander of a wing is a privilege and an honor," said Brig. Gen. Dwight Balch, Arkansas Air National Guard commander. "The mission assigned to the wing commander is sacred and it is imperative that this individual lead with integrity."
Col. Mark Anderson previously served as the 188th's vice commander before taking command of the Flying Razorbacks.
"Col. Mark Anderson will tell you he's a planner and his work has demonstrated he is a good one," Balch said. "He has been the lead on several major initiatives involving the wing. His performance in the 188th has been outstanding. At each position he has held, he has demonstrated the professionalism and integrity required of today's Air National Guard leaders."
Anderson will oversee all of the 188th Fighter Wing's operations and support functions, as well as manage the full- time force of federal technicians, active Guard and Reserve members and state employees. The 188th consists of approximately 1,000 Airmen. The 188th is equipped with 20 A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthog" aircraft and conducts close-air support, forward air control and combat search and rescue missions.
"I'm energized about the chance to lead this wing and excited about conquering the challenges that lie ahead," Anderson said. "Those challenges are formidable but they are manageable. Our facilities, airspace, training partnerships and community support are unmatched. But it's the courage, devotion, experience and enthusiasm of our hardworking Airmen that will help us surmount those obstacles and carry us through those challenging times. The 188th has always excelled in the face of adversity and I am confident that will continue."
Along with his experience as vice commander, Col. Mark Anderson has served in a number of different positions at the 188th and during his active duty Air Force career.
Anderson joined the 188th Fighter Wing in 2000. He has flown the F-16 Falcon and the A-10. During his tenure at the 188th, he has functioned in multiple roles, including 184th Fighter Squadron commander, 184th director of operations, wing chief of Safety and vice wing commander. His additional duties have included wing conversion project officer, unit compliance inspection project officer and operational readiness inspection project officer.
A command pilot, Anderson has more than 4,000 hours military flight time in the T-37, T-38, OV-10, F-16 and A-10. Upon completion of pilot training in 1987, he was assigned to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., as a forward air controller. At Shaw he flew the OT-37 and OV-10.
During his active duty career he served as a flight commander, wing chief of training, assistant director of operations and director of operations, functional check pilot, mission commander and instructor pilot.
In 1991 he was assigned to Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., for F-16C training. His first operational F-16 assignment was Misawa Air Base Japan as a member of the 14th Fighter Squadron. In 1995 he was assigned to the 27th Fighter Wing, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., as member of the F-16 conversion team. Anderson also served a one-year tour at Abu Swayr Air Base, Egypt.