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Brigadier General Thomas J. Kennett Transitions to the North Carolina National Guard

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  • By Staff Sgt. Laura Montgomery, 145th Public Affairs
Transition is a word Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Kennett is familiar with given his various units of assignments, job titles, and aircraft piloted. What better way to celebrate 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, than by taking on the role of the Assistant Adjutant General, Air for the North Carolina National Guard.

“I’m looking forward mostly to the challenges of the future…it’ll be hard but really exciting. I’ve done a conversion before, actually two and a half, which, one was a base move and that was the hardest I’ve done. As hard as this [C-17 Globemaster II aircraft conversion] will be, it could be worse. This wing has been through a lot over the past five to seven years, so it’s good to have somebody there who has done this to say, ‘It’s going to be okay.’”

With a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, a Masters of Arts in Communication Management, pilot training spanning 5 different aircraft, and many other courses and accomplishments under Kennett’s belt, the North Carolina Air National Guard is gaining a skilled and diverse individual to fill the position that requires the ability to gracefully fill many roles.

“As we transition and our organization changes, I tell everyone there are three ever-looming tsunamis coming at us; operational surge, money and equipment shortfalls, and organizational changes. Those tsunamis are going to come, we’re going to figure out where the problem areas are within those tsunamis and we’re going to fix those. Some things seem just so bad, but they’re really not that bad. Although they’re something we’re going to address, we’re going to get through it,” said Kennett.

There will be many changes ahead for the North Carolina Air National Guard, including the conversion from flying missions with C-130 Hercules to C-17 Globemaster II aircraft. Kennett, has previous experience piloting and transitioning to C-17 Globemaster II aircraft.

“For the pilots who will have to retrain I say this: don’t short your training. Trying to put another airplane in your brain is hard, you have to relearn procedures and processes. This [C-17 Globemaster II aircraft] is an electric jet so you have a lot of computer equipment and terms you need to learn. If you can get the full-meal deal, it’s painful now, but when you come out of it at the end, you’ll be a fully-trained person.”

Kennett’s eagerness and drive to assume this new position is evident in his goals.

“Initially, I have three goals; make the transition [as the new assistant adjutant general, air for the North Carolina National Guard] seamless for the Airmen. Assuming this new role should not change an Airman’s day-to-day job. The conversion [from C-130 Hercules to C-17 Globemaster II aircraft] leads to my second two goals; make sure the people that are currently deployed are being supported and given what they need while deployed and when they come back home and the third is to take care of the mission. We need to take care of the mission today, while we have folks deployed and the mission tomorrow as we transition to a new type of aircraft and figuring out how to smooth things over. Three things; people, transition, and mission.”

As the North Carolina Air National Guard rides the waves of transition, it’s enlightening and comforting to know that Kennett will be at the forefront, ready to support and guide the Airmen as they sail through and overcome the impending storm.