Colonel Houston R. Cantwell is the Vice Superintendent, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. He directly supports the Superintendent directing a four-year regimen of military training, academics, athletic and character development programs leading to a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant.
Prior to his current assignment, Colonel Cantwell was the 49th Wing Commander, Holloman AFB, N.M. In this capacity he was the installation commander supporting 17,000 Airmen, civilians, and their dependents. The primary mission of the 49th Wing was to graduate the Air Force’s finest combat-ready MQ-9 pilots and sensor operators.
Colonel Cantwell was commissioned in 1994 from the University of Virginia as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program. He completed Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus AFB, Miss, and has since flown combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan in the F-16 and MQ-9. He led the daily airfield operations at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, as the 455th Operations Support Squadron Commander. Later, he led 24/7/365 remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) combat operations across multiple combatant commands as the 732d Operations Group Commander at Creech AFB, NV.
1994 Bachelor of Science degree in systems engineering, University of Virginia, Va.
1999 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2002 Master of Arts degree in Organizational Management, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
2006 Master of Arts degree in Military Operational Art and Science, Air Command & Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2007 Master of Arts degree in Airpower Art & Science, School of Advanced Air & Space Studies, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2008 Air War College, by correspondence
2012 Master of Arts degree in National Security Strategy, National War College, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.
2015 Enterprise Leadership Seminar, Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, N.C.
2017 Leadership Enhancement Program, Center for Creative Leadership, San Diego, CA
2018 Capitol Hill Workshop, Alan L. Freed Associates, Washington D.C.
1. September 1994 - June 1996, Student, undergraduate pilot training, Columbus AFB, Miss.
2. July 1996 - May 1997, Student, F-16 training, Luke AFB, Ariz.
3. May 1997 - February 1999, F-16CG aircraft commander, Osan Air Base, South Korea
4. February 1999 - June 2000, F-16CG aircraft commander, Moody AFB, Ga.
5. July 2000 - June 2002, Intern and graduate student, Headquarters Air Force, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
6. July 2002 - July 2005, F-16CJ instructor pilot, later, Flight Commander and Wing Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, Misawa Air Base, Japan
7. August 2005 - July 2006, Student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
8. July 2006 - August 2007, Student, School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
9. August 2007 - March 2009, Staff officer, Policy & Doctrine and Operations Divisions, Third Air Force, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
10. March 2009 - May 2010, Executive officer to the Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
11. May 2010 - May 2011, Commander, 455th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan
12. June 2011 - June 2012, Student, National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
13. July 2012 - August 2012, Student, MQ-9 transition course, Holloman AFB, N.M.
14. Sept 2012 - March 2014, Commander, 732nd Operations Group, Creech AFB, Nev.
15. March 2014 - July 2016, Director of Operations, U.S. Forces Japan, Yokota Air Base, Japan
16. July 2016 – July 2018, Commander, 49th Wing, Holloman AFB, N.M.
17. July 2018 – present, Vice Superintendent, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Rating: Command pilot
Flight hours: more than 2,100, including more than 400 combat hours
Aircraft flown: T-37, T-38, F-16, and MQ-9
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster
Japan Defense Cooperation Medal
“Beyond Butterflies: MQ-1 Predator and the Evolution of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Air Force Culture,” graduation thesis, School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Maxwell AFB, AL, 2007
“Operators of Air Force Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Breaking Paradigms,” Air & Space Power Journal, Summer 2009
“Controversial Contrails: The Costs of Remotely Piloted Foreign Policy,” Joint Forces Quarterly, Jan 2013
“Colonel John Boyd’s Innovative DNA,” Air & Space Power Journal, Sept-Oct 2015
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant May 22, 1994
First Lieutenant June 1, 1996
Captain June 1, 1998
Major Jan. 1, 2005
Lieutenant Colonel June 1, 2008
Colonel July 1, 2012
(Current as of Jul 2018)