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Reservist leads active-duty squadron

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Timm Huffman
  • Headquarters Individual Reservist Readiness and Integration Organization

A month into his tenure as commander of an active-duty squadron, reservist Maj. Christopher Humphrey said he is excited about the leadership opportunities his new job offers.

As commander of the 460th Comptroller Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, Humphrey is responsible for an organization that provides customer support to 80,000 customers in the Denver area, manages the 460th Space Wing’s finances, and ensures all financial laws and regulations are followed.

The command opportunity is unusual, as reservists are not normally considered for active-duty assignments. Humphrey was able to compete for the position through the extended active-duty program. The EAD program gives qualified reservists the opportunity to fill active-duty positions for a pre-determined amount of time. In Humphrey’s case, he expects to be in command at the 460th for about 22 to 24 months, after which, he will return to the Air Force Reserve’s Individual Mobilization Augmentee program.

Humphrey’s new assignment is the latest chapter in a life-long relationship with the service that started as a child. An Air Force brat, Humphrey attended the Air Force Academy, graduated in 2000 and began his career in acquisitions. In 2007, he was serving at Los Angeles Air Force Base when he traded his uniform for a civilian position there.

The acquisitions officer worked for two years in the Space and Missile Systems Center before a promotion moved him into the GPS directorate. After the move, his old boss, now retired Lt. Col. Michael Welborn, told him about a vacant IMA billet and invited him to once again don the uniform and come to work for him as an Air Force Reservist.

IMAs are reservists assigned to augment active-component organizations and government agencies. Unlike traditional reservists who drill with a reserve unit each month, IMAs perform their annual duty requirements (about 30 days per year, depending on the position) with their active-duty unit once or twice a year.

Humphrey said he is forever grateful to his former supervisor for bringing him into the IMA program because it has been a great opportunity for him to don the uniform again. He said that in his experience, civil service jobs like his are very compatible with reserve assignments because of the flexibility afforded government employees to serve.

After several years as an IMA at LA AFB, Humphrey took a new reserve position as the IMA to the chief of the financial analysis division at Air Force Space Command Headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; right next door to his alma mater. While assigned there, he decided he wanted to further reinvigorate his Air Force career and give back to the service that had given him so much.

Col. Brian Kehl, the active-duty member Humphrey augmented there, said his IMA was an incredibly proactive team member and always came in ready to work. He said Humphrey would have all of his readiness items accomplished ahead of time and was ready to focus on accomplishing projects during his time in the office.

“IMAs require a lot of investment in paperwork and logistics and you want them to be productive when they perform annual duty,” said Kehl. “Chris was very proactive and made huge contributions during his tours; I was very impressed with his performance.”

That’s why, when Kehl received a call from his boss, a general officer who was sitting on the active-duty financial management officer development team, asking about Humphrey’s track record, he was able to give a glowing recommendation.

In the development team, Humphrey was measured against the active-duty officers who were also being eyeballed for the squadron commander list and was selected to fill one of the slots. Humphrey said making it onto the squadron commander candidate list was no guarantee of a job, let alone a desirable one. That didn’t matter to him; he just wanted to give back to the Air Force.

Fortunately for the comptroller, he was selected to lead the squadron at the 460th Space Wing, just a 60-mile drive north of his home away from home in Colorado Springs.

Humphrey’s selection says a lot about him, said Kehl. In order to earn command of an active-duty squadron, Humphrey had to be put forward by the Air Force Reserve, approved by the financial management development team, and then hired out of a pool of candidates by the wing commander.

Humphrey believes his long history with AFSPC, along with his experience in the civil service, active-duty and reserve worlds, give him a unique edge and perspective for working with the civilian and military members of his squadron.

Kehl and others at Headquarters AFSPC worked hard to get all the paperwork and logistics in place and were able to get him to work on time, which included a permanent change of station move from his home in Los Angeles.

Humphrey officially assumed command of the squadron from Maj. Douglass Eagleton during a ceremony, Dec. 12.

In addition to the technical responsibilities of the new assignment, Humphrey said he is also excited about the human relations aspect of leadership. As an acquisitions officer, his exposure to the enlisted force has been limited, he said. As commander, he looks forward to mentoring and developing his young Airmen and junior officers.

After attending the change of command ceremony and also speaking with Humphrey on several occasions since, Kehl said the new squadron commander is taking charge and working hard to improve his new squadron.

 “It’s a great honor for Chris [to be selected] and he’s doing a great job,” said Kehl.