New HAFB leader says he is ready to face the challenge

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The past few years have been a tumultuous time for the 75th Air Base Wing, but their new leader says he’s ready for the challenge.

In a military change of command ceremony that took place at Hill Air Force Base Wednesday, Col. Ronald Jolly Sr. took charge of the wing, replacing Col. Kathryn Kolbe, who is retiring from the Air Force after more than 20 years of service.

The 75th Air Base Wing oversees more than 1,300 Air Force facilities valued at $6.5 billion, while providing support for the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, Life Cycle Management Center, Nuclear Weapons Center, 388th and 419th Fighter Wings and over 60 other associate units totaling more than 20,000 personnel. The wing is also responsible for the 1,490-square-mile Utah Test and Training Range in Utah’s west desert.

The commander of the wing serves in a similar capacity to that of a city mayor.

Kolbe took over the wing in January of 2013. Since that time, the wing’s operating and maintenance budget has been slashed while the Department of Defense has faced unprecedented budget cuts as part of sequestration.

A pair of federal employee furloughs that impacted thousands of base workers and a complete government shutdown also took place while Kolbe led the air base wing.

“(We’ve) endured many fiscal challenges over the last two years,” Kolbe said Wednesday. “And they’ll likely continue into the future.”

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom during Kolbe’s tenure. The colonel oversaw $170 million in base construction during her time and welcomed new base maintenance contracts for the F-22 and the F-35. 

Kolbe is a Pennsylvania native and her retirement will take her back to the east coast. She plans to relocate with her family to the Washington, D.C. area.

Jolly is already familiar with base dynamics after spending the past year as the deputy commander of maintenance for Hill’s Ogden ALC.

In that position, Jolly was responsible for the cost, schedule, and quality of repair of the A-10, C-130, F-16, F-22, F-35 and T-38 aircraft. His oversight responsibilities of maintenance operations extended to sites as far away as Japan and several western states.

Jolly said he is humbled and grateful to lead the wing and is excited to tackle its unique challenges.

“It’s time to get to work,” he said.