Minnesota National Guard promotes new brigadier general
Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2022
By Air Force Lt. Col. (ret) Audra Flanagan and Robert Brown
Chris Blomquist, the new Chief of Staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard, was promoted to brigadier general during a ceremony at the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minnesota, in front of family, military leaders, community leaders, and 148th Fighter Wing members on Saturday, Sept. 10.
“In your new role as the Chief of Staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard, you are charged with inspiring over 2,200 Airmen at Minnesota’s two flying wings,” said Minnesota National Guard’s Adjutant General Army Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke.
Minnesota’s Air National Guard is comprised of the 133rd Airlift Wing, equipped with C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft in Minneapolis, and the 148th Fighter Wing, equipped with the F-16 Fighting Falcon in Duluth.
Cohesion is high on Blomquist’s list of priorities as he assumes this new role.
“My goals are to continue improving the organization at a level that extends to both Wings and Joint Force Headquarters,” he said. “I want to bring more jointness or collaboration between the Air and Army. I want to give everyone an opportunity to reach their highest potential and improve the Air National Guard by doing so.”
Blomquist served as commander of the 148th since 2017, where he oversaw two significant mobilization cycles in 2018 and 2022 that deployed nearly half of the Wing’s more than 1,000 airmen overseas to southwest Asia. During his command, Blomquist and the 148th were faced with unprecedented state missions including COVID-19 pandemic support, support of Minnesota floods and civil unrest in the metro, and sending members to conduct security at the 59th Presidential Inauguration.
“We prioritize people, modernization, and partnerships. I’m excited to help bring my experience in basing discussions and national-level advocacy for modernization to our Air Wings,” Blomquist said. “I look forward to building and strengthening more partnerships across the State with our military, businesses, and civilian and governmental organizations,” he said.
Prior to commanding the 148th, Blomquist served as an F-16 pilot, flight commander, chief instructor pilot and flight examiner, 179th Fighter Squadron commander, 148th Deputy Operations Group commander, and 148th Fighter Wing vice commander. His deployments include Balad Air Force Base, Iraq, in 2005 and 2008 and Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in 2012.
Blomquist believes a change in pace will help him and the organization be successful.
“Instead of always being on mission and trying to maximize scarce resources for a Fighter Wing, I’m able to take the time to think and act more strategically and long-term. I can do that for both Air wings now and have the luxury of having a bit more time to think critically and act in the best interest of the Minnesota National Guard,” he said.
Blomquist is replacing Brig. Gen. Sandy Best, who recently retired after 38 years of service to the Minnesota National Guard.
“I look forward to meeting more of our Airmen and Soldiers across the State of Minnesota,” he said. “I’m excited to enhance partnerships that ultimately help take better care of our members, their families as well as our State and Nation. I think I bring a unique perspective to modernization for our Air National Guard and hope to have lasting impacts for the good of our organization.”
As a General Officer, Blomquist is no longer authorized to fly Minnesota National Guard aircraft, and he already misses flying.
“I was able to retire from flying fighters at the top of my game which is reassuring. My last flight was instructing our newest fighter pilot in a lot of complex mission tasks,” Blomquist said. “I felt like I still had more to give, but flying fighters doesn’t get any easier when you’re in your third command role or at 50! So, as much as I’ll miss it, I look forward to being able to concentrate 100 percent of my efforts on improving the entire Minnesota Air National Guard.”