The naming of Col. Robert Inscoe Kinney as commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 188th Wing in Fort Smith reflects an ever-evolving side of the U.S. Air Force’s multi-functional, remotely piloted aircraft arsenal.
Kinney, a career intelligence officer, today becomes just the second non-flying wing commander in the U.S. Air Force. He succeeds Col. Bobbi Doorenbos, a former F-16 pilot, as commander of the 188th Wing today in a ceremony at the Fort Smith Convention Center. Doorenbos is being promoted to brigadier general for duty in the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon.
“It’s rather unorthodox for the Air Force to place a non-aviator in charge of a flying operation,” Kinney said at his office Thursday on Ebbing Air National Guard Base. “The world’s changed.”
There are now MQ-9 Reapers carrying a heavy workload for the United States and the 188th Wing endures a full-time, 365-day deployment while on this side of the ocean. So, psychologically, it’s a whole different world, too.
In 1990, when Kinney enlisted with the Maine Air National Guard at Bangor, Maine, he said he was simply answering an internal desire, or a “call to serve.” Becoming an air wing commander was the furthest thing from his mind, because it simply did not happen.
However, as he followed his interests in both law enforcement and military intelligence through the 1990s and early 2000s — including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and anti-terrorism work with a U.S. Attorney’s Office at Boston — the skill-sets he developed had positioned him for command of this unique “eye in the sky” unit.
It is a long…
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