Beale Air Force Base, CA: August 29, 2013
The First Recon Squadron’s new Commanding Officer (CO) takes over from Colonel “Chi Chi” Rodriquez with an unusual background. Beside being a fully qualified Senior Pilot with U-2 Spy Plane experience, the new CO is also an experienced computer programmer.
Lt. Colonel Colby Kuhns (left) first entered the USAF as an enlisted man. He joined the USAF in 1991, spending two years as a computer programmer before being accepted into the Air Force Academy, where he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in Humanities. The Colonel earned his wings in 1998, and has now now accumulated more than 3,700 piloting hours on active duty.
The new CO has had broad flying experience starting with flying cargo and personnel to 6 continents and over 35 countries. He has been an instructor in 4 aircraft, teaching everything from basic maneuvers to advanced formation flying to over 100 students. In the U-2, he has flown over 200 hours of combat time over Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also flown missions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Korea, and over the borders of the U.S.
His staff experience includes a stint as the U-2 Functional Manager for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Headquarters U.S. Air Force (HAF), Washington, D.C., and was responsible for developing and implementing ISR programs, while providing planning, programming, budgeting oversight, and functional guidance.
He was also the lead action officer for the implementation of the Global Hawk into the High Altitude ISR portfolio.
Most recently, Colonel Kuhns was the Director of Operations (DO) for the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron, responsible for training and employing the sole source of over 50 deployable U-2 pilots and ISR professionals to meet global high altitude ISR demand.