The 47th Operations Group welcomed its new commander during an assumption of command ceremony on Nov. 27, 2018 at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.
U.S. Air Force Col. Carey Jones assumed command of 47th OG, becoming its first female commander.
At Jones’ most recent assignment, she was the 603d Air Operations Center strategy division chief, which prepared her for the role she is to have in graduating the next generation of multi-domain combat aviators.
“At my last base, I was the strategy division chief, and AETC has been dealing with a lot of challenges with an increase of student production,” Jones said. “That ability to come up with a command and determine the possible pitfalls for the people doing the mission.”
Jones has a passion for strategy, a tool that can prove useful as the U.S. Air Force works to increase its number of pilots. Regarding Laughlin’s strategy to produce more pilots, Jones talked about creating a strong team to bring the goal to fruition.
“You’re dealing with difficult problems,” She said. “It’s not a yes or no answer or an easy answer to come up with. You can’t come up with it on your own – you need a lot of people to input. It’s an exciting team event that we all have a buy in.”
And where there’s a team, there is bound to be ideas, and innovation happens to be another tool the Air Force is challenging Airmen to implement.
“I know that there’s a big push for innovation, so we’re trying to look at how we can incorporate innovation intentionally,” Jones said. “Rather than just take a lot of new things and throw it at the problem, we’ll figure out what our long-term goal is, figure out what our biggest obstacle is, and then how technology can help us with those obstacles.”
Jones didn’t plan on an Air Force career, but when she graduated ROTC and saw a plane for the first time, her future in the military was certain. Shortly before her graduation, fighters were opened up as an option for women in 1996. She served as a weapons systems operator, but took advantage of the opportunity to become a fighter pilot and retrained as an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot.
The 47th OG is responsible for training U.S. Air Force and allied nation pilots under the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Program. The 47th OG encompasses the 47th Operations Support Squadron, 47th Student Squadron, 85th Flying Training Squadron, 86th FTS, 87th FTS, 434th FTS, and Laughlin’s reserves, the 96th FTS.
Jones expressed her excitement to work with the 47th OG and her passion for the mission. As the group’s first female commander, her goals for the Airmen and the group is to help them be successful in the mission.
“First and foremost, I want to set the environment and the conditions for them to be successful,” Jones said. “I want to help heal and encourage because there’s been a lot of pain.”
With healing, encouragement and mentorship, she believes the squadrons will be able to produce the best pilots in the world.
“I’ve been impressed with the squadron commanders here,” Jones said. “They are looking at the hard problems, they’re not against change at all, and they’re definitely looking for where they can improve, but they’re doing it very wisely.”
Jones didn’t hesitate to mention she and her family are grateful to be at Laughlin and how welcoming the base has been. She smiled and said she’s happy to make it home for a while.