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Active Duty Command Highlights Successful Total Force Integration

131st Bomb Wing Missouri Air National Guardsman Col. Michael Pyburn assumed command of the 509th Operations Group Oct. 24 at Whiteman Air Force Base.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keenan Berry/Released)

131st Bomb Wing Missouri Air National Guardsman Col. Michael Pyburn assumed command of the 509th Operations Group Oct. 24 at Whiteman Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keenan Berry/Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The recent appointment of a Guardsman as commander of an active duty unit validates the success of Total Force Integration between the 509th and the 131st Bomb Wings here.

Col. Michael Pyburn assumed command of the 509th Operations Group Oct. 24, following Col. David Benson's departure.  Pyburn previously commanded the 131st OG since April 2013, and worked closely with Benson in overseeing all B-2 and T-38 flight operations here.

"This is why the TFI works so well; because you have the two group commanders working side by side," Pyburn said of the opportunity. "If the 131st has to step in and take over for a short period of time, it's a seamless transition."

The opportunity to lead an active duty unit came after Col. David Benson took a new role as 7th Bomb Wing commander at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Pyburn will hold the temporary assignment until the permanent active duty operations group commander is appointed in late spring 2016.

"This decision is the direct result of the strong mutual relationship we've established with our Guard brothers and sisters, via our successful day-to-day work projecting decisive air power around the globe," said Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets IV, 509th Bomb Wing commander. "We look forward to advancing our important mission together, as closely as ever, with Colonel Pyburn in this new role."

"Coming on the heels of a successful total-force nuclear surety inspection and our commanding display of air power at the Air Force Global Strike Challenge competition, appointing Colonel Pyburn as Operations Group commander for the 509th is just another confirmation of TFI excellence at Whiteman," said Col. Michael Francis, 131st Bomb Wing commander. 

Lt. Col. Jared Kennish, formerly the 110th Bomb Squadron commander, assumed duties as the 131st Operations Group commander in the interim.