908th Mission Support Group Welcomes New Commander

  • Published
  • By Bradley J. Clark
  • 908th Airlift Wing

The Commander of the 908th Airlift Wing, Col. Christopher K. Lacouture, bestowed command of the 908th Mission Support Group to Col. Donna M. Whittaker during an assumption of command ceremony Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Whittaker has more than 25 years of service in the Air Force Reserve, with 12 years as a Logistics Readiness Officer and 13 years as a Force Support Officer.

Lacouture spoke first, explaining how Whittaker’s experience makes her the right person to lead the 908th MSG.

“Col. Whittaker comes to us with an ideal background to lead the MSG,” said Lacouture. “She has many years of experience as a [Logistics Readiness Officer] and a [Force Support Officer]. She has command experience in another unit in the 22nd Air Force, and experience working in [Manpower, Personnel, and Services] on the Air Force Reserve Command staff. I could not build a better resume for a MSG commander.”

Then Lacouture highlighted Whittaker’s education.

“Col. Whittaker enhanced her military experience with an impressive education resume that benefits the Air Force,” said Lacouture. “She completed U.S. Army War College in residence earlier this year. In addition to her [professional military education] achievements, Col. Whittaker has impressive civilian education achievements. She earned a Doctorate in Business Administration from the Florida Institute of Technology … that school is exclusive, prestigious, and produces capable graduates.”

Lacouture closed his comments by giving his guidance to Whittaker.

“Today I put the MSG under your command,” said Lacouture. “Use your knowledge guided by your experience to lead the group. You will command the vast majority of the 908th Airlift Wing’s deployable capability. Make your Airmen ready. Support the wing in garrison. Work in a mutually beneficial manner with the 42nd Air Base Wing. I know you will succeed.”

Most recently Whittaker served as the deputy director of the Headquarters U.S. Air Force Personnel Policy section at the Pentagon. Prior to that, she was a student the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

After assuming command, Whittaker thanked her family, friends, and other key people in her life. Then she focused on the unit.

“To the men and women of the 908th Airlift Wing, past and present, thank you,” said Whittaker. “Col. Lacouture, I look forward to working with you, learning from you, and leading this amazing group.”

Then Whittaker spoke about what she can do for the unit and its members.

“Here’s what I know coming into this assignment,” said Whittaker. “I know that you have purpose, you have commitment, and you have grit. I’ve spent the last month viewing the Facebook posts, reading the articles, and asking questions. Asking others and asking myself how I can best serve you. And as I work with the squadron commanders and our partners across this base, this community, the Reserve Command, and the Air Force at large, I will be asking the same question directly. How can I best serve you?”

Whittaker then turned her attention to the changes the wing is facing.

“Change can be scary because it introduces uncertainty,” explained Whittaker. “It begs the question, ‘What is this going to look like on the other side?’ I say change is exciting, it’s exhilarating even, because it brings an opportunity to ask, ‘What do we want this to look like on the other side?’”

She closed with a question for each squadron and her goal for the group.

“I come to you with an open mind to work with you to be the best group the Air Force Reserve has seen to date,” said Whittaker. “I come with an easy smile because a friend once told me work isn’t work when it’s done with joy. And I come with an open heart because I recognize that as we move forward from where we are now, even as we commit ourselves to the future, there might be things in the past that you miss and there may be some struggles. I also come to you with standards and expectations. So, I’m going to ask, SFS, are you ready? FSS, are you ready? LRS, are you ready? APS, are you ready? CES, are you ready? … MSG, can I hear you🙹”

Whittaker entered the Air Force on Aug. 29, 1997. She graduated from Pace University in New York and was commissioned through the Academy of Military Science at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee, in November 1997.