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Colonel Robert V. Lankford is the Commander, 437th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. The 437th Airlift Wing deploys Airmen and aircraft worldwide in support of contingency operations that involve the airland and airdrop delivery of forces, equipment, and supplies. These missions support combat operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed special operations missions and United States sponsored humanitarian relief efforts.

Colonel Lankford was commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in 1998. He has operational and combat experience as a C-17A Pilot, an Air Liaison Officer, and B-1B Weapons System Officer. Colonel Lankford also served as the Commander, 21st Airlift Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California.  Following Squadron Command he served as the Executive Officer to the Commander, Air Mobility Command. Colonel Lankford was then an Air Force Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. Before arriving at Joint Base Charleston, he served as the Commander, 62nd Operations Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. He ensured the combat readiness of three C-17A Globemaster Ill airlift squadrons and an operations support squadron to conduct all aspects of C-17A operations, including mission planning, allocation, execution, command and control, training, scheduling, intelligence, aircrew flight equipment, weather, and airfield operations. Colonel Lankford is a Senior Pilot with more than 2,800 flight hours in the C-17A and the B-1B.


1998 Bachelor of Arts in History, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Charlotte,  N.C.

2005 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

2006 Master of Aeronautical Science, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Fla.

2010 Master of Military Operational Art and Science, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

2011 Master of Military Art and Science, School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

2012 Air War College, Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence

2019 Air Force Fellow, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


1. September 1998 - April 2000, Student, Undergraduate Navigator Training, Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla.

2. April 2000 - May 2001, Student/B-1B Formal Training Unit (including Electronic Warfare Training at Randolph Air Force Base, TX), 28th Bomb Squadron, Dyess AFB, Texas

3. May 2001 - November 2002, B-1B WSO, 9th Bomb Squadron, Dyess AFB, Texas

4. November 2002 - December 2003, Flight Commander, Air Liaison Officer, 682d Air Support Operations Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

5. December 2003 - February 2005, Student, Undergraduate Pilot Training, 14th Flying Training Wing, Columbus AFB, Miss.

6. February 2005 - July 2005, C-17A Initial Qualification Course, 58th Airlift Squadron, Altus AFB, Okla.

7. July 2005 - June 2009, Flight Commander, Assistant Operations Officer and Wing Executive Officer, C-17A Instructor Aircraft Commander, 14th Airlift Squadron, Charleston AFB, S.C.

8. June 2009 - June 2010, Student, Air Command and Staff College. Maxwell AFB, Ala. (Distinguished Graduate)

9. June 2010 - May 2011, Student, School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

10. June 2011 - May 2014, Joint Strategic Plans Officer, USEUCOM, Patch Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany

11. May 2014 - June 2015, Chief of Safety, 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, Calif.

12. June 2015 - April 2017, Commander, 21st Airlift Squadron, Travis AFB, Calif.

13. April 2017 - June 2018, Executive Officer to the Commander, Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Ill.

14. June 2018 - July 2019, Air Force Fellow, The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

15. July 2019 - May 2021, Commander, 62d Operations Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

16. May 2021 - Present, Commander, 437th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, S.C.


Rating: Navigator, Senior Pilot

Flight Hours: Over 2,800 including more than 600 in combat

Aircraft flown: B-1B, C-17A


Bronze Star Medal

Defense Meritorious Service Medal

Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters

Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters

Aerial Achievement Medal

Joint Service Commendation Medal

Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters Joint Service Achievement Medal

Air Force Achievement Medal


Second Lieutenant June, 1998

First Lieutenant June, 2000

Captain June, 2002

Major May, 2008

Lieutenant Colonel, Sep 2013

Colonel, March 2019

(Current as of May 2021)