Col. Keagan L. McLeese is the Deputy Commander, 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The wing’s mission is to train the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen. As part of Air Education and Training Command, and home to 26 Squadrons with F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35A Lightning II aircraft, the 56th is the largest fighter wing in the U.S. Air Force and graduates more than 100 F-35A pilots, 180 F-16 pilots, and 230 air control professionals annually. Additionally, the 56th Fighter Wing oversees the Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field and is steward of the Barry M. Goldwater Range, a military training range spanning more than 1 million acres of the Sonoran Desert.
Col. McLeese entered the U.S. Air Force in 1998, is a 2002 graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., and has over 20 years of active service. He attended Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training at Moody AFB, Ga. and Columbus AFB, Miss., where he earned his wings in 2003. Col. McLeese’s career includes operational flying assignments in the F-15C Eagle as a four-ship flight lead at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, F-22 Raptor as a flight evaluator and functional check pilot at Langley AFB, Va., T-38C Talon as chief flight evaluator at Randolph AFB, Texas, and F-35A Lightning II as a flight evaluator at Luke AFB, Ariz. He has commanded at the flight and squadron levels, most recently as the commander of the 435th Fighter Training Squadron, Randolph AFB, Texas.
As an F-15C and F-22 pilot, Col. McLeese has deployed five times in support of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command theater security packages. He also led U.S. Joint air and space strategy development for the Middle East, including the war against the Islamic State of Iraq/Syria (ISIS) in Operations INHERENT RESOLVE, and RESOLUTE SUPPORT as the Strategy Plans Division Chief, 609th Air Operations Center, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Col. McLeese is a command pilot with over 2,100 flying hours in the T-6, F-15C, F-22, T-38, and F-35A. Prior to his current position, the colonel was the Senior Air Force Advisor for Force Development, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Pentagon, Washington D.C.
2002 Bachelor of Science, Operations Research, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.
2009 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2010 Master of Business Administration, Finance, Touro University International University, Cypress, Calif.
2014 Master of Military Operational Art and Science, Political-Military Affairs Specialist, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2018 Safety and Accident Investigation Board President Course, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
2019 Joint and Combined Warfighting School, Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
2020 Senior Course, NATO Defense College, Rome, Italy
1. May 2002–February 2003, Student, T-6 Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Moody AFB, Ga.
2. February 2003–September 2003, Student, T-38C Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Columbus AFB, Miss.
3. September 2003–January 2004, Student Pilot, Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals, Moody AFB, Ga.
4. January 2004–August 2004, Student Pilot, F-15C Basic Course, Tyndall AFB, Fla.
5. August 2004–June 2007, F-15C 4-Ship Flight Lead and Supervisor of Flying, 19th Fighter Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska
6. June 2007–October 2007, Student Pilot, F-22 Transition Course, Tyndall AFB, Fla.
7. October 2007–January 2010, F-22 Instructor Pilot and Supervisor of Flying, 90th Fighter Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska
8. January 2010–August 2013, Operations Flight Commander and Chief F-22 Flight Evaluator/Functional Check Pilot, 27th Fighter Squadron, Langley AFB, Va.
9. August 2013–June 2014, Student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
10. June 2014–June 2016, Aide-de-Camp to the Commander, Air Combat Command, Langley AFB, Va. (June 2015–June 2016, Strategy Plans Division Chief, 609th Air Operations Center, Al Udeid AB, Qatar)
11. June 2016–March 2018, Director of Operations then Commander, 12th Operations Support Squadron, Randolph AFB, Texas
12. March 2018–March 2019, Commander, 435th Fighter Training Squadron, Randolph AFB, Texas
13. March 2019–June 2019, Student, Joint and Combined Warfighting School, Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
14. June 2019–July 2020, Senior Fellow, NATO Defense College, Rome, Italy
15. July 2020–June 2022, Senior Air Force Advisor for Force Development, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Pentagon, Washington D.C.
16. June 2022–Present, Deputy Commander, 56th Fighter Wing, Luke AFB, Ariz.
SUMMARY OF JOINT ASSIGNMENTS
1. June 2015–June 2016, Strategy Plans Division Chief, 609th Air Operations Center, Al Udeid AB, Qatar, as a major
2. July 2020–May 2022, Senior Air Force Advisor for Force Development, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Pentagon, Washington D.C., as a colonel
Rating: command pilot
Flight hours: more than 2,100
Aircraft flown: T-6, F-15C, F-22, T-38, and F-35A
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Defense Superior Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant May 29, 2002
First Lieutenant May 29, 2004
Captain May 29, 2006
Major March 1, 2012
Lieutenant Colonel Dec. 1, 2016
Colonel March 1, 2021
(Current as of October 2022)