Grand Forks Air Force Base will complete its redesignation process Friday, thereafter falling under the command of the 319th Reconnaissance Wing — a unit previously referred to as the 319th Air Base Wing.
The redesignation will realign reporting procedures for units affiliated with the various Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle missions. Before the redesignation, those units reported to a command element at Beale AFB in California. Following the redesignation, units will report to higher command elements at Grand Forks AFB.
The redesignation will take place in tandem with Col. Benjamin Spencer relinquishing command to the incoming base commander, Col. Cameron Pringle. Aside from changes in the line of authority and some units changing their names, the redesignation will come with no visible changes.
Spencer's next assignment will be as the vice commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.
"The Air Force Sustainment Center, commanded by a three-star general, owns three air logistics complexes, two supply chain wings and three air base wings. As a career logistics officer, I will be returning to a key post in the Air Force Logistics enterprise," said Spencer of his new position.
"I’m extremely proud of the time I’ve spent leading the Airmen of the 319th Air Base Wing, and my family and I will miss the amazing Grand Forks community," he said. "With that said, I’m excited about what the future holds at our next assignment."
Lt. Col. Devon Fitts, the director of operations for the 319th operations support squadron at Grand Forks AFB, manages the daily operations for the base and says the changes taking place are largely administrative.
“When you’re dealing with an organization as large as the Air Force the toughest part is coordinating action with several different offices,” he said. “There are several layers of administrative staffing and approval with long lead times required.”
Fitts also said the redesignation was helped, in part, by the Grand Forks community and state leaders.
“North Dakota is a great place for UAS,” he said. “We commend the work done by the Grand Forks community, North Dakota and federal officials to advance public-private partnerships so all can benefit.”
Master Sgt. Clinton W. Stallard IV, the superintendent of the manpower flight for the Grand Forks AFB, leads a team of consultants for base leaders and has been involved with the re-designation process. Stallard and his team work to make sure base leaders have the right amount and type of manpower to accomplish a particular goal. His team also leads the base continuous process improvement program, as well as providing organizational assessments.
According to Stallard, the redesignation will not lead to a reduction of personnel on the base. He does say the base “will see some small targeted growth” in some areas as the base “assumes some of the mission workload” that was completed previously at Beale Air Force Base.
Though he does say there will be building and hangar renovations in the future, Fitts said the updates “cannot be tied to the redesignation specifically.”
Herald reporter Joe Bowen contributed to this article.