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10th Air Base Wing update: Academy's host unit gets new commander

Lieutenant Gen. Richard Clark, superintendent of the Air Force Academy stands next to Col. Christopher Leonard, commander of the 10th Air Base Wing,

Lieutenant Gen. Richard Clark, superintendent of the Air Force Academy (left), and Col. Christopher Leonard, commander of the 10th Air Base Wing, June 18, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Armstrong)

Col. Christopher Leonard, commander of the 10th Air Base Wing (left), shakes hands with his predecessor, Col. Brian Hartless after the wing's change of command ceremony, June 18, 2021.

Col. Christopher Leonard, commander of the 10th Air Base Wing (left), shakes hands with his predecessor, Col. Brian Hartless after the wing's change of command ceremony, June 18, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo/Josh Armstrong)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - The 10th Air Base Wing at the Air Force Academy gets a new commander as the school adjusts to the declining effects of the global coronavirus pandemic and adapts to producing officers for the Space Force.

Colonel Christopher Leonard took charge of the wing, the school’s host unit, during a ceremony on the 10th ABW headquarters’ front lawn, June 18.

Former wing commander Col. Brian Hartless leaves the Academy for the Pentagon to serve as a senior logistics, engineering and force protection official with a nomination by the Senate for promotion to brigadier general in tow. 

Lieutenant Gen. Richard Clark, the Academy’s superintendent, presided over the event, welcoming Leonard back to the Academy and thanking the wing’s staff for continuing to protect the base during the pandemic.

“We need the unique talents of the more-than 3,000 of you to navigate through the uncharted territory of a global pandemic,” he said. “Medical professionals, first responders, logisticians, security forces, engineers, administrators and so much more. You have kept us safe, healthy and secure, and enabled our critical mission so we can continue to develop future leaders for our Air and Space Forces.”

Clark said Leonard now leads a wing assigned with a singular mission of supporting cadets at the Air Force’s only academy.

“With the impressive experience and reputation he brings, I am confident ‘Team Ten’ will be in good hands,” he said. “Colonel Leonard is the perfect officer to lead the 10th ABW through the next critical phase of the race.”

Leonard comes to the Academy from the Pentagon where he was the Air Force senior military assistant to the office of the assistant secretary for installations, environment and energy.

This is his first assignment at the Academy since graduating from the school with a civil engineering bachelor’s degree. He’s since earned a master’s of science in engineering and environmental management and graduated Air War College and the Army Command and General Staff College. Leonard is also a National Defense Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy Law School.

“The 10th Air Base Wing’s legacy of success and valor will continue,” Leonard said to Clark.

The new commander thanked the wing’s staff for a “warm welcome,” and for “getting me started on the right foot.”

Clark praised Hartless’s efforts during his time as the wing commander.

“Brian’s time here has been anything but average,” he said. “Even before COVID-19 came along he led his team through several major winter storms, endless senior leader visits, and then we threw a National Hockey League at him with more than 1 million fans tuning in from all over the world.

“In the face of an historic pandemic, Brian led ‘Team Ten’ as they set an example for our cadets, our Academy, our military and our nation, of how our leaders step up during a time of crisis,” Clark said.

The 10th ABW supports more than 4,000 cadets and a military community of more than 25,000 service members and their families.