HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, June 2, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base welcomed a familiar face as the new commander Wednesday, as Col. Craig R. Andrle assumed command of the Air Force’s only combat capable F-35A Lightning II unit.
Andrle has served as the vice commander of the 388th Fighter Wing for a year and is taking over as Brig. Gen. (select) Steven Behmer moves on to serve as the Air Force’s director of F-35 integration at the Pentagon after having led the wing since June 2019.
“The accomplishments of the 388th Fighter Wing over the past two years are the results of not one person standing on stage but the grit and determination of the 2000 Airmen of the 388th Fighter Wing that I’ve had the honor to lead,” Behmer said in his last address as the fighter wing commander. “It has truly been an honor to be your wing commander.”
Andrle, who joined the Air Force 21 years ago, is a command pilot with more than 3,500 hours in the F-16 and F-35A, including more than 1,000 combat hours. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Air Command and Staff College, and National Defense University. Prior to joining the 388th, he served on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon as political and military planner for the Middle East.
“The warriors of the 388th Fighter Wing have been exceptional,” said Maj. Gen. Chad Franks, 15th Air Force commander and presiding official over the ceremony. “They’ve been exceptional because they were well-led. Col. Behmer has done a fantastic job here at the 388th Fighter Wing. (Col. Behmer), this is your heritage, you should be proud. The Airmen of the 388th Fighter Wing are generally better because of your leadership.”
Andrle takes over one of the busiest and most in-demand fighter wings in the Air Force. The 4th Fighter Squadron is currently deployed to France; the 34th Fighter Squadron recently returned from a major combat exercise, Checkered Flag and weapons system evaluation; and the 421st is preparing for a combined weapons system evaluation on the Utah Test and Training Range. All while remaining ready to deploy anywhere, anytime as the Air Force’s only combat capable active duty F-35 unit.
“I’ve seen this wing in action over the last year, and to say I’m impressed would be an understatement,” said Andrle. “I promise you that I’m here to support you, encourage you…and let you do what you do; because you’re the best in the world, you are the tip of the spear. I couldn’t imagine a better team to be a part of.”