HILL AIR FORCE BASE — There’s a new sheriff in town.
Or, more accurately, a new commander.
Last week, Hill Air Force Base welcomed a new top leader when Col. Jenise Carroll took command of the 75th Air Base Wing. Carroll follows Col. Jon Eberlan, who is set to take on a position in the Council on Foreign Relations Fellowship Program in New York.
According to an Air Force fact sheet, the wing oversees more than 1,700 Air Force facilities valued at $7 billion and provides support for the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, Life Cycle Management Center, Nuclear Weapons Center, 388th and 419th fighter wings, and more than 50 other associate units totaling in excess of 27,000 personnel. The wing is also responsible for the 1,490-square-mile Utah Test and Training Range in Utah’s west desert.
The commander of the wing serves in a similar capacity to that of a city mayor.
Carroll was originally commissioned as an officer in the Air Force in 1996. She’s served in a variety of positions since joining the military and has deployed in operations Constant Vigil, Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom and Inherent Resolve.
Carroll takes over the base during an unprecedented time.
The base’s F-35 combat unit continues to ramp up operations and had been steadily deploying for several years now. Hill is the Air Force’s first, and thus far only, home for an Air Force F-35 combat unit. The active duty 421st and Reserve 466th fighter squadron are currently deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, supporting the U.S. Air Force Central Command mission in the region. The outfit performs close air support missions and supplies air and maritime escorts for other U.S. military groups.
Hill also serves as the Department of Defense’s main maintenance hub for the F-35 and a host of other military aircraft. In November 2019, a $45 million, nine-month reconstruction of the base’s runway was completed.
Hill also serves as the DoD’s headquarters for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program.
The United States’ land-based ballistic missile force is currently made up of some 400 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Air Force is upgrading the missiles, their rocket motors and other components, but plans to replace them through the GBSD program by about 2030. According to the Congressional Research Service, the new program will cost more than $80 billion and run for 30 years. The total cost includes the acquisition of missiles, new command and control systems, and large-scale renovations of launch control centers.
Hill officials and members of Utah’s Congressional Delegation have said the program will bring as many as 2,500 jobs to the area. The program will eventually include six new buildings at Hill — over one million square feet of office and lab facilities.
It’s also the base’s 80th anniversary and, to top it off, Carroll must lead in the midst of a global pandemic.
Carroll said she hopes to bring three traits into her new job: transparency, integrity and compassion. She said she’ll spend the next few weeks getting to know airmen and the missions they complete.
“I’m now an heir to 80 years of excellence,” she said. “This is an amazing opportunity to join this incredible team.”
As for Eberlan, he said his four year at Hill were among the best of his 30 years in the Air Force. As commander, he was charged with leading the Air Force’s second largest base, by population. The base populace is about three times bigger than that of his hometown, Jasper, Texas.