News Tribune reporter Adam Lynn files this story after interviewing the new top airman in the Puget Sound area Friday:
The new commander of McChord Air Force Base will have his hands full as the Obama administration moves to draw down troops in Iraq and increase operations in Afghanistan.
McChord and its 4,600 military and civilian personnel and 43 C-17 cargo jets certainly will play a central role "if a decision is made to shift forces anywhere in the world," Col. Kevin J. Kilb said Friday.
"Obviously, we’re focused on doing our part to win today’s fight," Kilb said after being installed as commander of the 62nd Airlift Wing during festivities at the base south of Tacoma. "The continuous support of the war fighter is what we’re focused on."
He replaces Col. Jeffrey Stephenson, who has been appointed as chief of staff of the Air Force Chair at the National War College in Washington, D.C.
Local concerns also will occupy Kilb, a 20-year Air Force veteran who has commanded units across the world.
Kilb, 43, told The News Tribune that one of his top priorities will be ensuring that McChord’s merger with Fort Lewis goes as smoothly as possible. Wing commander assignments usually last 20 to 24 months.
The two Pierce County military installations are scheduled to become a single base by October 2010. The Base Realignment and Closure Commission ordered the consolidation in 2005.
"Making sure we get that right" while "taking care of our airmen and their families" will require a concerted effort over the next year or so, Kilb said.
"We want to become the model joint base in the Department of Defense," he said.
Kilb comes to McChord from Air Force headquarters in the nation’s capital, where he served as chief of the Global Mobility Division and chair of the Global Mobility Panel, Directorate of Programs, Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Programs.
He is a command pilot with more than 3,600 hours of flight time in aircraft including the C-17A, C-130E/H Hercules and UH-1N Huey helicopter.
Kilb’s duty stations included a deployment to Iraq in 2006, where he commanded the 407th Air Expeditionary Group at Ali Air Base near the ancient city of Ur.
He and his wife, Stacey, have three daughters, ages 6, 5 and 5 months.
Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644