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Colonel Matthew R. Johnston is the commander of the 56th Operations Group at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The group’s mission is to build the future of airpower by training F-35 pilots, F-16 pilots, F-15 pilots, air battle managers, weapons directors, and intelligence professionals. He oversees operations for the Air Force’s largest operations group comprised of 11 squadrons and over 170 F-16 and F-35 aircraft.

He is a command pilot in the United States Air Force with over 2,000 flight hours in the T-37, T-38, AT-38, F-16C/D, and F-35A Joint Strike Fighter. His operational experience includes missions in Operations NOBLE EAGLE and IRAQI FREEDOM.

Colonel Johnston earned his commission from the United States Air Force Academy in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Management, then served with the 14th Airlift Squadron at Charleston AFB, South Carolina. In 2010, Colonel Johnston was selected as an initial cadre for the F-35, where he upgraded developmental and operational test pilots, as well as other instructors in the F-35. Colonel Johnston is also a graduate of the Naval Command and Staff College and the Maritime Advanced Warfighting School at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island and National War College, National Defense University, Ft. McNair, Washington D.C.

He has served as the Director of Operations for the 388th Operations Support Squadron and as the Commander of the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill AFB, Utah, leading the first F-35A deployment in USAF history. Most recently, he served as the Southeast Asia Branch Chief overseeing the South China Seas region for the Director for Strategy, Plans, and Policy, the Joint Staff, Pentagon. Colonel Johnston is married to the former Dr. Jamie Lynn Smith, and has two girls, Amelia (8 yrs), Carden (6 yrs), and one boy, Bryce (2 yrs).


2001 Bachelor of Science in Management, United States Air Force Academy, Colo.
2002 Air and Space Basic Course, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
2005 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2010 Master of Business Administration, Colorado State University, Colo.
2011 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., correspondence
2015 MA National Security and Defense Strategies, Naval Command and Staff College, NAVSTA
Newport, R.I.
2015 Advanced Studies Group, Maritime Advanced Warfighting School, NAVSTA Newport, R.I.
2020 MS National Security Strategy, National War College, National Defense University, Ft.
McNair, Washington, D.C.
2022 Doctor of Education in Applied Educational Studies, Oklahoma State University, Okla.

1. May 2001—April 2002, Executive Officer, 14th Airlift Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.
2. April 2002—April 2003, Student, Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Sheppard AFB, Texas
3. August 2003—May 2004, Student F-16 Initial Flight Qualification, Lackland AFB, TX
4. May 2004—May 2005, Assistant Weapons Officer, Scheduler, F-16CG Wingman, 36th Fighter Squadron, Osan
Air Base, Republic of Korea
5. May 2005—October 2007, F-16CM Instructor, Chief of Training, Assistant Weapons Officer, 34th Fighter
Squadron, Hill AFB, Utah
6. October 2007—October 2010, F-16CM Evaluator, Chief of Training, Flight Commander, 309th Fighter Squadron;
Link-16 Program Manager, Activities Security Manager, 56th Operational Support Squadron, Luke AFB, Ariz.
7. October 2010—July 2014, F-35A Evaluator, Flight Commander, Chief of Training, Assistant Director of Operations
of Standardization and Evaluation 58th Fighter Squadron; Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 33 Operations
Group, Eglin AFB, Fla.
8. July 2014—September 2015, Intermediate Developmental Education, Naval Command and Staff College;
Maritime Advanced Warfighting School, Naval Station Newport, R.I.
9. September 2015—June 2017, F-35A Instructor, Director of Operations, 388 Operations Support Squadron, Hill
AFB, Utah
10. June 2017—May 2019, F-35A Evaluator, Commander, 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill AFB, Utah
11. June 2019—June 2020, Senior Developmental Education, National War College, Ft McNair, Washington, D.C.
12. June 2020—April 2021, Southeast Asia Branch Chief in the Directorate for Strategy, Plans, and Policy, the Joint
Staff, Pentagon. Washington, D.C.
13. April 2021—June 2022, Deputy Division Chief for Central Europe and Eurasia in the Directorate for Strategy,
Plans, and Policy, the Joint Staff, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Rating: Command Pilot
Flight hours: More than 2000
Aircraft flown: T-37, T-38, AT-38, F-16C/D, F-35A

Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Air Force Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Meritorious Unit Award
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with silver leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal
Iraqi Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korean Defense Service Medal

Second Lieutenant May 31, 2001
First Lieutenant May 31, 2003
Captain May 31, 2005
Major Jan 1, 2011
Lt Colonel Jan 1, 2016
Colonel May 1, 2021

(Current as of June 2022)