HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The 388th Fighter Wing here received a new commander today as Col. Steven G. Behmer assumed command of the Air Force’s only operational F-35A Lightning II unit.
“We will continue to make sure this wing is singularly focused on deploying combat power,” Behmer said. “It’s not just about the aircraft. The F-35A doesn’t go into combat without the work of everyone in this entire wing getting it there. I want to thank you for all you do.”
Behmer, who joined the Air Force 21 years ago, is a command pilot with more than 2,600 hours in the A-10 and F-35A, including 110 combat sorties. A graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, he also spent time as a national security affairs fellow at the Hoover Institution for War, Revolution and Peace, at Stanford University.
Most recently, Behmer served as the commandant of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada. He commanded 21 squadrons with more than 250 assigned instructors and 700 personnel to provide “graduate-level” advanced flying and tactical training for hand-selected officers across a variety of career fields, including fighter, bombers, command and control, space, cyber, ICBMs, intelligence, mobility, special operations, combat search and rescue and remotely piloted aircraft.
“The tactical and operational innovation of a weapons officer combined with the strategic thinking of a Stanford fellow is an impressive combination,” said 12th Air Force commander, Maj. Gen. Andrew Croft, who presided over the ceremony. “I’m confident that he will lead at a high level, and that this wing will be ready whenever they’re called upon. He’s the right man for the job.”
Behmer comes to the 388th Fighter Wing at a busy time. Currently, the 4th Fighter Squadron is operating in the Middle East on the Air Force’s first F-35A combat deployment. The 421st Fighter Squadron is deployed on a European Theater Security Package. The 34th Fighter Squadron is operating out of Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, while Hill’s runway undergoes major construction and repair.
The wing also has oversight of the Utah Test and Training Range, a 3.2 million acre range in Utah’s west desert that provides operational test and evaluation of weapons requiring a large safety footprint.
Behmer is taking over as Col. Lee E. Kloos, the wing’s commander since June 2017, will retire following a 24-year Air Force career.
“There’s been no better way to complete my career than as commander of this great wing. I want to thank you for all you’ve done and will continue to do,” Kloos said.