Hurst named next commander of 123rd Airlift Wing

By Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Col. Warren Hurst

Col. Warren H. Hurst

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Col. Warren H. Hurst has been selected as the next commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, Kentucky’s adjutant general announced Aug. 7.

Hurst will replace Col. Gregory L. Nelson, who was named deputy director of strategic plans and policy at the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C. A formal change-of-command ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Air Guard Base in Louisville on Sept. 16.

“The Kentucky Air National Guard has placed great emphasis on building a great bench of leaders capable of maintaining our position as the best airlift wing in the nation,” Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini said in making the announcement. “Colonel Hurst will continue Kentucky’s national reputation of unequaled excellence and unbridled service into the future.”

Hurst has served for he past five years as commander of the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group, a unit designed to be an early responder in the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other major emergency anywhere within a 400-mile radius of Louisville. The group also is capable of supporting military contingency operations worldwide.

Described as an “airbase in a box,” the 123rd CRG has all the personnel, training and equipment needed to deploy to a remote site, open a runway and establish airfield operations so that aid or troops can begin to flow into affected areas. Unit members’ training, experience and equipment — including immediate access to the Kentucky Air Guard’s C-130 aircraft — mean they can deploy rapidly in any contingency situation to quickly establish initial operating capabilities for humanitarian or military airlift.

The 123rd CRG is one of only 10 CRGs in the entire Air Force and the first fully operational CRG in the Air National Guard.

Tonini credited Hurst’s leadership of the unit for setting a new standard of excellence in the disaster-response community and for “developing policy in this high-profile mission area.”

Hurst is a command pilot who has flown C-130 combat, combat-support and humanitarian relief operations worldwide while serving for the active duty Air Force and Air National Guard. He has participated in numerous missions, including Operations Provide Promise, Restore Hope, Provide Relief, Joint Forge, Coronet Oak, Red Flag-Alaska, Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Prior to assuming command of the 123rd CRG, Hurst served a three-year temporary duty tour on the Tanker Airlift Control Center Battle Staff at Air Mobility Command Headquarters, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. He also has an extensive background in planning and executing expeditionary airlift operations worldwide. Hurst coordinated civil-military air relief efforts during the 2010 Haiti earthquake and served as deputy director of mobility forces to the Pacific Air Forces commander in response to the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan.

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