New AFCENT Commander Takes Over at Al Udeid

In a hangar flanked by F-15s and Apache helicopters at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich was sworn in as the new commander of the Ninth Air Force, Air Forces Central, July 21. Grynkewich will be responsible for a 21-nation area of responsibility, some 15,000 Airmen, and combat operations over Iraq and Syria.

Newly minted chief of U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Michael E. Kurilla, was on hand for the ceremony, commending the former CENTCOM director of operations and referring to him by his call sign, “Grynch.”

“There’s no question that Grynch is the right leader with the right temperament and the right experiences to lead AFCENT at this moment,” Kurilla said.

The CENTCOM commander said Grynkewich is now responsible for the daily missions in support of the anti-ISIS Operation Inherent Resolve over Iraq and Syria; protecting air bases against attacks from unmanned aerial systems; and conducting airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias; and will perform deterrence missions in support of allies and partners.

As commander of the Ninth Air Force, Grynkewich oversees its 332nd, 378th, 379th, 380th, and 386th Air Expeditionary Wings; Combined Air Operations Center; and Air Warfare Center.

Grynkewich said the Central Command region remains geographically important and requires innovative solutions to new threats in collaboration with partners and allies.

“This is an amazing region with a rich history, vibrant cultures, and a geostrategic importance that is difficult to overstate,” he said.  “As we work together, we must find new ways to counter these new threats. As technology races ahead, we must identify the risks and exploit the opportunities the progress and change bring.”

Before welcoming Grynkewich to the command, Kurilla first acknowledged the progress made by outgoing Ninth Air Force commander Air Force Lt. Gen. Gregory M. Guillot.

“Under his command, this organization developed and matured a cloud-based capability to allow AFCENT to fight in the face of cyberattacks and kinetic strikes,” Kurilla said, noting that Guillot’s next assignment will be deputy director at CENTCOM.

Under his command, AFCENT also provided support from Gulf bases and carriers for the Afghanistan noncombatant evacuation operation in August 2021.

“You did not see the dozens of combat jets these men and women had overhead all the time. I can assure you the Taliban did see those aircraft,” Kurilla said. “The Taliban did see the AFCENT weapons trained on the Kabul airfield.”