Leader Blues

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

TOP STORY > >Group gets new commander

Col. George Risse took over command of the 314th Mission Support Group at Little Rock Air Force Base, succeeding Col. Scott Lockard in a change-of-command ceremony on Monday.

Brig. Gen. Rowayne A. Schatz, Jr., commander of the 314th Airlift Wing, was the officiating officer.

The mission support group provides supply, transportation, contracting, aerial port, security forces, services and civil-engineering functions, which keep the 6,128-acre base operating.

“Change of command is a time to say congratulations,” Schatz said. “Congratulations to Col. Lockard for doing a fantastic job leading this group for the past two years, (and) three years of contributions total to Little Rock. He was previously the deputy commander for the 463rd Airlift Group. And also congratulations to Col. Risse for coming here; getting to step into perhaps one of the most rewarding jobs in the Air Force is to command a fantastic group like the 314th Mission Support Group.”

Risse comes here with a background in international relations, such as implementing military policy and coordinating military sales to foreign countries, combating drugs in Panama, serving in Iraq as a United Nations observer and playing a supervisory role in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In his previous assignment, Risse was senior executive officer to the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs, where he was chief of the Europe/NATO/Eurasia division, which is responsible for formulating Air Force policy on complex international issues affecting U.S. political and military relations with 54 countries in Europe and Eurasia.

Risse managed and directed Air Force foreign military sales programs and oversaw management of security-assistance policy for foreign military sales valued at more than $30 billion. He coordinated with senior Air Force, the office of the secretary of defense, State Department and foreign government officials on international security issues. He represented the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff in executive-level negotiations with senior foreign officials.

“There are so many people to thank,” Risse said at the change-of-command ceremony, “but most importantly, there is a mission that we share as Americans, so it is truly an honor to have a place in history in that mission.

“Make no mistake about it—I had heard about Little Rock and the relationship that existed between the base and the surrounding communities and teamwork that goes on with everyone here long before I was selected for this command,” Risse added.

“My father taught me a deep and abiding love for my country, but he taught me patience, persistence and love,” the new
commander said during the ceremony.

“I’m the oldest of seven children, and my youngest brother was not quite a year old when my mother passed away, which left my father with seven children. And what a tremendous job he’s done raising all seven of us, and now I stand before you today as a colonel in the United States Air Force assuming command of one of the greatest units in the country.”

Lockard, who relinquished command of the 314th Mission Support Group, moves with his wife, Gina, to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, where he will be responsible for readiness and resources at the Air Education and Training Command, including manpower and strategic planning for the command’s operations.

Describing his command of the 314th Mission Support Group, Lockard said, “We spent the last two years focused on teamwork and making each member of the team a valued contributor and together we built an organization filled with pride, respect, and a can-do attitude that most other organizations can only emulate.”

Risse is a master navigator with more than 2,700 hours in various KC-135 tanker aircraft and the EC-135 DV aircraft.
As a KC-135 detachment commander in Panama for counterdrug operations, his unit received the Joint Meritorious Outstanding Unit Award.

He was a volunteer UN observer in Iraq, where he developed key plans and oversaw UN air operations.

As commander of the Fourth Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron at Morón Air Base, Spain, he led a team in staging operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Risse’s new command in-cludes the 314th Civil En-gineer Squadron, 314th Com-munications Squadron, 314th Contracting Squadron, 314th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 314th Mission Support Squad-ron, 314th Security Forces Squadron and the 314th Services Squadron.

The group is made up of 1,800 military and civilian personnel employing seven squadrons and $1.4 billion worth of assets.

The mission support group supports the base’s 314th Airlift Wing but also sustains 36 other tenant units, including Air

Mobility Command’s 463rd Airlift Group, the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing and Air Force Reserve personnel.

The group supports 6,100 military and civilian personnel, 6,500 military families and 34,000 retirees.

Among his awards and decorations, Risse has received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 devices, United Nations Service Medal, United Nations Observer Medal, NATO Medal and two Liberation of Kuwait medals, one from the government of Saudi Arabia and one from the government of Kuwait.

(Senior Airman Jason Elkins of Little Rock Air Force Base contributed to this report.)