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Happy Hooligans: Becklund leaves post, Gibney on board

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Col. Robert J. Becklund officially relinquished command of the 119th Wing to Col. Rick D. Gibney during a Change of Command Ceremony at the N.D. Air National Guard base on Saturday, Dec. 5.

Currently, Gibney serves as the J-5 Director at the N.D. National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Bismarck.  His responsibilities include overseeing all activities involving strategic planning, international affairs and organizational development programs.  Prior to that assignment, he served as commander of the 178th Reconnaissance Squadron at the 119th Wing.  In that position he was responsible for the establishment and the day-to-day operations of the MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) mission.

"I am confident that Col. Gibney will excel in his role as the 119th Wing Commander.  His experience and leadership throughout his career has prepared him to move the organization into the future. His character will ensure that the 119th Wing continues on the path of excellence and builds upon the strengths of these men and women who stand ready to serve their nation and community," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, N.D. National Guard adjutant general.

Becklund, a West Fargo native, who has served as commander of the 119th Wing since August 2004, oversaw the unit's largest transformations in its history.  During his tenure, the 119th Wing ended a 60-year fighter mission and assumed the current missions of flying the C-21 Lear Jet and operating the MQ-1 Predator UAS.

Becklund recently moved to Washington D.C. to take on a new assignment with the U.S. Air Force UAS Task Force. 

"Col. Becklund will certainly be missed as the 119th Wing commander, but I know his position and influence will continue to benefit the N.D. Air National Guard and our state," said Sprynczynatyk. "This is a very prestigious and challenging position, but I know of no one more qualified than Bob.  He is a strong leader who understands the importance and the future of UAS in the Air Force.  I have no doubt he will bring great success to this new undertaking."