192nd Operations Group welcomes new commander

The 192nd Wing welcomes Col. Chris P. Batterton, former 192nd Wing vice commander, as the new 192nd Operations Group commander during a change of command ceremony Aug. 10, 2019, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Batterton took command of the Group from Col. Darren P. Gray who had served as commander since June 12, 2017. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Johnisa Roberts)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — Col. Christopher G. Batterton, former 192nd Wing vice commander, took command of the Virginia Air National Guard’s 192nd Operations Group, 192nd Wing from Col. Darren P. Gray, Aug. 10, 2019, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

During opening remarks, Col. Frank J. Lobash, then 192nd Wing commander, identified numerous accomplishments the 192nd OG completed during Gray’s time as group commander that mirrored the National Defense Strategy of 2018.

The opening paragraph of the NDS of 2018 states, “The Department of Defense’s enduring mission is to provide combat-credible military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of our nation. Should deterrence fail, the Joint Force is prepared to win. Reinforcing America’s traditional tools of diplomacy, the Department provides military options to ensure the President and our diplomats negotiate from a position of strength.”

“192nd Operations Group, that paragraph defines what you do, what your mission is and what you have done under the leadership of Gray over the last two years,” said Lobash. “You continue to deter adversaries simply by the readiness posture you present every single time you come to work… You are ready to go at a moment’s notice when required… 149th, OSS, you have deployed with our 1st Fighter Wing partners multiple times during the leadership of Gray. Just four weeks ago, we successfully executed the first GRF deployment the USAF on a no notice deployment has ever executed…”

Gray led the 192nd OG to a new level of advancement in the U.S. Air Force and the ANG. As he retires from the VaANG, he leaves the operations group well equipped and prepared for what lies ahead.

“The men and women of the 192nd Operations Group represent the finest the Air National Guard, Air Force and nation has to offer,” said Gray. “Two hundred eighty five true American heroes, committed to being the world’s premier F-22 and adversary air pilots, intelligence experts, cyber warriors and operational support and weather professionals. For the past 25 years, it has been the greatest honor of my life to be able to wear this uniform and serve alongside you. Thank you and Godspeed!”

As Batterton assumed command of the 192nd OG, Lobash and Gray commented on the capable hands the OG would be in and gave positive reinforcements to his upcoming leadership.

“Thank you Col. Lobash for your confidence and this incredible opportunity to lead a team of professional Airmen,” said Batterton upon accepting command. “Thank you Whip for your leadership and dedication which has taken our operations group to our highest level of readiness and for empowering our Airmen to be exceptional at each of their individual trades. This has ultimately built a team of the very best. You’ve been a great friend and a mentor.”

Batterton addressed the 192nd OG Airmen as the new group commander.

“I’m blown away by your level of commitment to excellence in all you do. It’s an honor to serve as your commander,” said Batterton. “Your volunteerism, teamwork within the VaANG and the entire TFI team, the caliber of work that you exhibit every day is nothing short of amazing. Our diverse mission sets span flying fighters, supporting flying operations, intelligence support 24/7, cyber warriors and weather support for combat ops. All of your missions are vital to our nation and to the Commonwealth of Virginia. I’m here to serve you and I look forward to a great journey. I’m proud of you, your families and our entire VaANG team.”