New 25th Air Force commander takes reins of vast ISR enterprise

Maj. Gen. Mary F. O’Brien takes command of 25th Air Force from Gen. Mike Holmes, Commander of Air Combat Command, May 31, at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland.

Maj. Gen. Mary F. O’Brien takes command of 25th Air Force from Gen. Mike Holmes, Commander of Air Combat Command, May 31, at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland.

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND AFB, Texas - Maj. Gen. Mary F. O’Brien took command of 25th Air Force today at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland.

Maj. Gen. Bradford "B.J." Shwedo relinquished command during the ceremony, presided over by Gen. James M. Holmes, commander, Air Combat Command.

“It’s truly, truly a great honor to take command of 25th Air Force today,” O’Brien said. “I want to thank General Holmes for placing his trust and confidence in me. Sir, I look forward to serving under your command and partnering with my fellow NAF [Numbered Air Force] commanders to achieve new challenges that you set out for us.”

O’Brien is not new to the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance enterprise.

“Even though I’ve never been stationed here at the Headquarters, this is my 5th time serving with the men and women of 25th Air Force. Over the past 15 years, I’ve had the opportunity to witness firsthand your incredible accomplishments,” O’Brien said.

“I am very well aware that I’m standing on the shoulders of giants by following my former commanders…. Under their combined leadership, I’ve dedicated the majority of my career to providing ISR to our joint warfighters in all domains - land, sea, air, space and cyberspace and also taking care of the Airmen, and their families, who perform these critical missions around the world every day,” she said.

O’Brien is ready to tackle the job ahead.

“I pledge to continue the work of the servant leaders who came before me and accept their offers of continued mentorship,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien thanked her family for their dedication.

“None of this would even be possible without the love and support of my family,” she said.

O’Brien is a 1989 graduate of the Air Force Academy, and prior to this assignment, she was director of intelligence, U.S. Cyber Command, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. In this position, she served as the principal intelligence adviser to the commander of U.S. Cyber Command.

She served in a variety of intelligence command and staff assignments. Her commands include the 22nd Intelligence Squadron, Fort Meade, Maryland; 691st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, Royal Air Force Menwith Hill, United Kingdom; and 70th ISR Wing. She also served in staff positions on the Joint Staff, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force Legislative Liaison, Headquarters U.S. Air Force and Air Force Space Command.

O’Brien previously deployed to Afghanistan as the Deputy Director of Intelligence where she led United States, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and International Security Assistance Force ISR operations, human intelligence, counter-intelligence and intelligence support requirements within the Operation Enduring Freedom Combined Joint Operations Area-Afghanistan.

The newest, and first female 25th Air Force commander is now responsible for leading the nearly 30,000 enterprise members whose mission is to provide full-spectrum decision advantage to warfighters and national leaders through globally integrated ISR, electronic warfare, information operations, and strategic command and control.

Following the change of command, Holmes promoted Shwedo to the rank of lieutenant general. His next assignment will be as Chief, Information Dominance and Chief Information Officer, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, DC.          

Starting in 1948, the predecessor units of 25th Air Force include:  United States Air Force Security Service, Electronic Security Command, Air Force Intelligence Command, Air Intelligence Agency and Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency.