HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The newest leader of Utah’s largest military installation is an accomplished person of color who hopes to motivate others to forge their own path to their fullest potential.
Ten days ago, Col. Jenise Carroll was sworn in as the new commander of the 75th Air Base Wing at Hill Air Force Base, replacing Col. Jon Eberlan. A career personnel officer, Carroll had previously served at the Pentagon as director of Legislative Affairs for U.S. Central Command.
In her new capacity, Carroll will head efforts to support the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, two fighter wings, along with 50 associated units as well as oversee 27,000 active duty, civilian and contractor personnel. Additionally, she will also lead base support for the operation of the 1,500-square-mile Utah Test and Training Range in Utah’s west desert.
A native of Houston, Carroll expressed her enthusiasm for taking over as commander and becoming a part of the Wasatch Front military community.
“This is my first time to Utah ever. And so as I arrived flying in, I looked at the mountains and I was like, ‘Wow, what an amazing view,’” she said. “Although I just took command on the 23rd (of July), I’ve actually interacted with the community and team Hill. I am very excited about working with the community as well as the mission partners.”
She said a big part of her job will be to inspire the next generation of airmen to achieve at the highest level they can attain.
“I use the three L’s: learn, listen and lead. It’s very important as a leader to learn the environment that you are now involved in. I’ve never worked in an Air Force Materiel Command position before so this is the first time where I worked in a unit that is largely made of our civilian airmen versus our military airmen,” Carroll explained. “It’s a little different. Normally, the units I’ve commanded before had been largely military units, so when it comes to inspiring the next generation, my focus there was military. Now it’s a combination of both looking at inspiring military, civilian and contractor airmen about how we go to the next level in the operations that we’re given.”
She said the day-to-day operational goals are to support the warfighter in all the combat missions that are currently ongoing.
“All things Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran — the complexity of that is enormous. No one really knows what the enemy is thinking. For us and our youth across the board, we need to really start stepping back to look at what are we doing, what has worked, what’s not working (and) truly get inside the mind of the enemy,” she said. “We need to make sure that our readiness capability is always at the forefront, including our F-35 mission that we have here at Hill — the 388th Fighter Wing and the 419th Fighter Wing. They are truly the first combat ready F-35 unit, (and we have to make) sure that they’re ready to go at any time in a moment’s notice.”
Carroll also has served as the senior military adviser to the director of diversity management and equal opportunity at the U.S. Defense Department. She said addressing diversity and inclusion on-base will be a priority during her tenure in the Beehive State.
“Right now, as our nation is looking at starting a dialogue with all things racial and the racial disparity, inclusion (and) opportunity, it’s all about the dialogue. What we don’t know is what people are thinking because we haven’t asked,” she said. “Now there’s a number of sensing sessions that are going on across the Department of Defense. So (our job is) really getting in the mind of our youngest airmen and our oldest airmen to see what their concerns are, and then adopting things that we should adopt to make sure we have inclusivity across the Department of Defense.”
Carroll said she also wants to serve as a conduit for helping young females aspire to become leaders in the Air Force.
“When you look across the force, we do not have enough female women representation. We as women, we elect not to serve in that higher rank or that higher position. It doesn’t mean we’re not qualified,” she said. “But what I offer women as I serve in this role is there’s nothing that we can’t do. Given the opportunity, go for it. You may not see anyone that looks like you in that role, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t break down that barrier and move forward to show the next generation that it is possible.”
She also noted the impact coronavirus is having on the military and the mission of fighting enemy forces across the world.
“We still have to continue the mission, just as the enemy is continuing their mission. Just as we are impacted by COVID-19, so are the other countries and the enemies that we’re fighting against,” Carroll said. “(On base) we’re practicing social distancing wearing our mask. (Making) sure that we’re mindful of our health is very important to the warfighter. We are a warfighter, the human capital is very important as we go forward. The weapon systems are absolutely important, but we are a weapon system (and) the human body is very important (as well).”