Holloman Air Force Base
Holloman welcomed its new commander during a change-of-command ceremony July 15 at Hangar 500.
Col. Houston Cantwell assumed command of the 49th Wing and Holloman Air Force Base from the previous commander, Col. Robert Kiebler.
“I have been overwhelmed in the short time that I have been here at the outstanding leadership team that exists at Holloman Air Force Base,” Cantwell said. “It is humbling to be a part of this team, and I look forward to getting to know each and every one of the commanders. My number one priority, walking in the door, is to ensure that the wing continues to move toward being the premier RPA training organization in the world.”
As commander of the 49th Wing, Cantwell is responsible for more than 17,000 military and civilian personnel. He leads Holloman’s mission to provide combat-ready Airmen, train MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper pilots and sensor operators, and hosts the 54th Fighter Group’s F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot training mission, the 96th Test Group’s high-speed test track mission and the German Air Force Flying Training Center.
Additionally, the wing delivers Air Transportable Clinics and Base Expeditionary Airfield Resources.
Cantwell was previously the director of operations for U.S. Forces in Japan. But now, his focus is on the unique mission at Holloman.
“There are no other countries that train remotely piloted aircraft aircrew like we do – like the United States Air Force does,” Cantwell said. “We, at Holloman Air Force Base, train roughly 80 percent of the entire enterprise and that is something to be proud of.”
And, it is that pride in service and pride in the Holloman mission that the new 49th Wing commander wants to share with every person involved in the wing’s success.
“Not only do I want to make sure that we become and remain the premier training organization, I want to make sure that everyone assigned to the wing understands how important that role is,” Cantwell said. “That is really something to be proud of because this is an organization, the RPA enterprise, that is out there every day, 24-7, literally on the front lines of our national defense doing amazing things for our country. We should all take pride in that.”
As the incoming commander, Cantwell has already made plans to strengthen Holloman’s role in advancing the world’s best remotely piloted aircraft enterprise.
“We are one of the two pillars of the RPA enterprise of the United States Air Force, and that is an amazing accomplishment,” Cantwell said. “That was all done by Airmen who are turning the wrenches and making the mission happen. My vision right now is to take that RPA enterprise and move it to the next level, and make sure that everyone understands how important that mission is to, not only the United States Air Force, but to the national defense of our country.”