What are we up to? Colonel shares Grand Forks Air Base’s mission in State of the Base address

Event, held at the Alerus Center, featured a record-breaking crowd, according to Mayor Brandon Bochenski.

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At the conclusion of the annual State of the Base address at the Alerus Center on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, Col. Tim Curry, Commander 319 Reconnaissance Wing, Grand Forks Air Force Base, takes a photograph of a record crowd as mayor Brandon Bochenski looks on.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS – Before what Mayor Brandon Bochenski called a record-breaking audience at the Alerus Center on Tuesday, Col. Tim Curry provided an update on the vision and mission of Grand Forks Air Base in his annual State of the Base address.

Curry, commander of the 319th Reconnaissance Wing, oversees a team of more than 4,000 personnel spanning the globe, with airmen stationed in North Dakota, Georgia, Italy, Japan, Guam and California. Of these 4,000, 1,700 active-duty service members are stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

The theme of Curry’s address was “what are we up to,” referring to the tactics employed by the 319th Reconnaissance Wing to keep ahead of adversaries and support U.S. allies. Curry said such a mission begins with those on the front lines – his airmen.

“Intelligent, strong and ready – those are the people you want to own the watch,” said Curry. “Our mission is to provide combat-ready airmen, anywhere and any time they are needed. I expect my airmen to serve a purpose greater than themselves.”

Curry listed China and Russia as the two most imminent threats to the United States, calling them actors bent on harming the nation.


“Currently, the Chinese Communist Party and the Russian Federation do not like the United States of America,” said Curry. “In fact, they’d like to do you harm, and the people of the United States harm.”

Curry said tools such as Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 global hawks – remotely piloted aircraft flown at high altitude to assist in enemy surveillance and the protection of allies – are key to the Air Force’s ability to deter threats adversaries.

“Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance are our bread and butter,” said Curry. “These tools allow us to deliver information and intelligence to national leaders, and our allies and partners to assist in decision making.”

According to Curry, the 18th Airborne Command and Control Squadron, located at Robins Air Base in Warner Robins, Georgia, utilizes Bombardier’s E-11A, a manned aircraft providing remote communications between airborne units as well as ground command centers.

“The aircraft provide wi-fi in the sky, linking air, space and cyberspace capabilities across all fighting domains,” said Curry. “We hope to have the E-11A in Grand Forks no later than June.”

Chief Master Sgt. Chris Wlodarczyk, who as command chief is responsible for the physical and mental development of Grand Forks-based airmen in the 319th Reconnaissance Wing, called them “our greatest competitive advantage.”

“They are defenders of liberty – bold young leaders who are carrying us into the future,” said Wlodarczyk. “If diplomacy fails, they are our last line of defense. They come from all over the United States and abroad to defend our freedom and liberty.”

Bochenski thanked Curry, who is approaching retirement, for his more than 30 years of service to the Air Force. Bochenski noted that Curry has served “with distinction all over the globe,” and commended him and his family for the sacrifices they have made.


Bochenski also impressed upon all airmen – past and present – that they will always have a place to call home.

“Whether you’re here for two years, for four years, or the rest of your lives, you’ll always have a home in Grand Forks,” Bochenski said.

Attendance was 285, according to the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the State of the Base event. Overall, 292 tickets were sold.

Banish covers news pertaining to K-12 and higher education, as well as county commission coverage.
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