Col. Christopher Gries serves the Oklahoma Air National Guard (ANG) as the Commander of the 137th Special Operations Group, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma City. Col. Gries is responsible for the combat readiness of a special operations group consisting of up to 13 MC-12W aircraft and 513 personnel. The diverse group includes a special operations squadron, special operations support squadron, aeromedical evacuation squadron, air support operations squadron, intelligence squadron, special operations intelligence squadron, Joint Terminal Attack Control Qualification Course (JTACQC), and the MC-12W Field Training Unit (FTU). He directs, trains, equips and maintains a military force capable of short notice, world-wide deployments in response to Department of Defense approved war plans, contingencies and disaster relief.
Col. Gries began his career in the U.S. Air Force as an enlisted airman in September of 1993, graduating basic training as an honor graduate and selected for follow-on training as a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) member. He completed technical training at Hurlburt Field, Florida in June 1994, and was assigned to Fort Stewart, Georgia for his first assignment. Col. Gries served as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) for multiple active duty, and National Guard assignments, until commissioning with the Idaho ANG in January 2002. He attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi and graduated from C- 130E/H mission qualification training in September 2003. Prior to his current position, he flew the C-130H supporting war-time airlift mobilizations, humanitarian and intelligence collection, the RC-26B executing domestic joint counter narco-terrorism operations and overseas contingencies, commanded both the 146th Air Support Operations Squadron as an Air Liaison Officer (ALO), and the 185th Special Operations Squadron as an MC-12W instructor pilot. Col. Gries additionally serves as the ANG’s Special Operations Forces (SOF) Weapons System Council (WSC) chairman. He is a veteran of Operation(s) VIGILANT WARRIOR, VIGILANT GUARD, IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM, NEW HOPE, and NEW DAWN. His most recent deployment was as the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) liaison for Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) to the joint staff, Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR).
Col. Gries is a command pilot with over 3,300 total military and civilian hours in the T-37, T-1, C-130E/H, RC-26, MC-12W and numerous civilian aircraft. He currently holds the rating of instructor pilot for the MC-12W. In his civilian capacity the colonel served as an Air Interdiction Agent, Department of Homeland Security, Air and Marine Operations.
2002 Bachelor of Arts, Management, Excelsior College, Albany, N.Y.
2002 Academy of Military Science, McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tenn.
2006 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., by correspondence
2014 Air Force Special Operations Command Mission Commanders Course, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
2014 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence
2016 Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence
1. June 1994 – August 1996, Battalion TACP, 15th Air Support Operations Squadron, Ft. Stewart, Ga.
2. August 1996 – August 1997, Battalion TACP, 607th Air Support Operations Squadron, Camp Casey, Republic of Korea
3. March 1997 – January 1998, TACP Team Leader, 5th Air Support Operations Squadron, Ft Lewis, Wash.
4. January 1998 – December 1999, Chief of Training, 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, Camp Murray, Wash.
5. December 1999 – January 2002, Chief Standard/Evaluation, 124th Air Support Operations Squadron, Gowen Field, Idaho
6. March 2002 – May 2003, Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.
7. June 2003 –September 2003, C-130E/H Initial Qualification Training, Little Rock AFB, Ark.
8. September 2003 – June 2009, C-130E/H Instructor Pilot, 189th Airlift Squadron, Gowen Field, Idaho (August 2004– December 2004, Weapons/Tactics Officer, 744th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait; January 2008 – May 2008, ISR Liaison Officer AFSOUTH, Davis Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz.)
9. June 2009 – June 2012, RC-26, Joint Counter Narco-Terrorism-Task Force, Tucson, Ariz. (May 2010–August 2010, RC-26, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, 45th ESOS, USCENTCOM)
10. June 2012- May 2015, Director Operations, 146th Air Support Operations Squadron, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Okla.
11. May 2015 – June 2017, Commander, 146th Air Support Operations Squadron, Will Rogers ANGB, Okla.
12. June 2017– December 2018, Commander, 185th Special Operations Squadron, Will Rogers ANGB, Okla.
13. December 2018 – Present, Commander, 137th Special Operations Group, Will Rogers ANGB, Okla.
Rating: Command Pilot
Flight hours: more than 2,000
Aircraft flown: T-37, T1, C-130E/H, RC-26B, MC-12W
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Meritorious Service Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters Army Achievement Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant February 2002
First Lieutenant February 2004
Captain February 2006
Major April 2010
Lieutenant Colonel February 2015
Colonel December 2018
(Current as of February 2021)