Col Van T. Thai is the Commander of the 100th Operations Group, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom. The 100 OG is responsible for the planning, scheduling, and execution of all United States Air Forces in Europe air refueling operations as well as the mission readiness, mobilization, employment, training, and standardization of 15 KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft and over 240 permanently assigned aircrew and support personnel. Prior to arriving at RAF Mildenhall, Col Thai was a military professor in the Department of International Security Studies at Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He instructed National Security Decision Making, Regional Security Studies, and Global Security contributing to the professional development of more than 240 U.S. and international military and civilian fellows.
Col Thai was born in Saigon, Vietnam. He earned his commission in 1998 from the U.S. Air Force Academy. Col Thai has served in various KC-135 and C-12 squadron leadership roles to include commanding the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, the Air Force's largest combat flying squadron which included an Afghanistan forward operating base. His unit was composed of over 300 Airmen (total of 2,000 rotational) and 55 aircraft (over $3 billion in value) executing nearly 14,000 missions in the US Central Command area of responsibility. Furthermore in his previous operational position, Col Thai was the Deputy Commander, 18th Operations Group, 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan. During this period the 18th Operations Group supported over 900 personnel in 13 squadrons (including 4 expeditionary), had approximately 92 F-15C, F-16, KC-135, E-3 AWACS, E-8 JSTARS, RC-135, and HH-60 aircraft, and conducted all 18th Wing flying operations as well as aeromedical and combat rescue missions, in support of U.S. and allied interests.
Col Thai is a senior pilot with more than 2,400 flight hours in the KC-135 R/T, C-12 F/J, E- 3 B/C, E-8, HH-60, T-1A, and T-37B. He has flown in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (to include OEF-P), Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Inherent Resolve, and Operation Freedom Sentinel. Col Thai is also a Northeast Asia Foreign Area Officer (FAO) with experiences in not only the Indo-Pacific, but also Europe and Africa.
1998 Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
1998 Air Force Institute of Technology National Security and Language Program (French), University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (Non-degree Program)
2005 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala. (#1 Sq Grad, Top 3rd Grad, Top 3rd Flt)
2005 Asia Pacific Center for Securities Studies Junior Executive Course, Fort DeRussy, Hawaii
2006 Master of Arts degree in Economics, University of Oklahoma, Norman
2007 Marine Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University, Quantico, Va., by correspondence
2008 Master of Science degree in International Relations, Troy University, Montgomery, Ala.
2008 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence
2011 Associates of Arts degree in Japanese Studies, Defense Language Institute, Monterey, Calif.
2012 Japan Air Command and Staff College, Meguro Base, Tokyo, Japan
2016 Joint and Combined Warfighting School, Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
2018 Ecole de Guerre, Ecole Militaire, Paris, France
2018 Advance Security Cooperation Course, Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Fort DeRussy, Hawaii
2018 Asia-Pacific Orientation Course, Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Fort DeRussy, Hawaii
2019 Comprehensive Crisis Management Course, Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Fort DeRussy, Hawaii
1. August 1998 – December 1998, Student, Air Force Institute of Technology National Security and Language Program (French), University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
2. January 1999 – February 2000, Student, undergraduate pilot training, Vance AFB, Okla.
3. April 2000 – July 2000, Student, KC-135 initial qualification, Altus AFB, Okla.
4. July 2000 – December 2003, Aircraft Commander, Aircrew Scheduler, and Standardization & Evaluation Liaison Officer, 909th Air Refueling Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan
5. January 2004 – February 2004, C-12J initial qualification, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska
6. February 2004 – February 2005, C-12 Pilot and Chief Aircrew Scheduler, 55th Airlift Flight, Osan AB, South Korea
7. March 2005 – April 2008, KC-135 Instructor Pilot, Chief of Tanker Current Operations, and Chief of Short Range Mission Scheduling, 18th Operations Support Squadron, Kadena AB, Japan
8. April 2008 – May 2009, Aide-de-Camp to the Deputy Commander for Civil-Military Activities, U.S. Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany
9. May 2009 – February 2010, Branch Chief, International Engagements, J5, U.S. Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany
10. February 2010 – February 2011, Student, Japanese Studies, Defense Language Institute, Monterey, Calif.
11. March 2011 – April 2012, Student, Japan Air Command and Staff College, Meguro Base, Tokyo, Japan
12. May 2012 – October 2012, Deputy Director for Plans, Policy and Strategy, 5th Air Force, Yokota AB, Japan
13. October 2012 – June 2013, Division Chief, Policy, Engagements, and Strategy, 5th Air Force, Yokota AB, Japan (reorganization after the deactivation of 13th Air Force)
14. July 2013 – May 2014, Director of Operations, 909 Air Refueling Squadron, Kadena AB, Japan
15. May 2014 – May 2015, Commander, 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, Al Udeid AB, Qatar
16. June 2015 – June 2016, Deputy Commander, 18th Operations Group, 18th Wing, Kadena AB, Japan
17. June 2016 – June 2018, Training & Transition period and Student, French War College, Ecole Militaire, Paris, France.
18. July 2018 – July 2019, Military Professor/Operations Officer, Daniel K. Inoue Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Fort DeRussy, Hawaii
19. July 2019 – May 2020, Military Professor, Air War College, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
20. June 2020-Present, Commander, 100th Operations Group, RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom
SUMMARY OF JOINT ASSIGNMENTS
1. April 2008 – May 2009, Aide-de-Camp to Deputy Commander for Civil-Military Activities, HQ Staff, U.S. Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany, as a major
2. May 2009 – February 2010, Branch Chief, International Engagements, J5, U.S. Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany, as a major
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster
2002 Pacific Air Force Airlift Tanker Association Young Leadership Award
2003 Southeast Asian Foreign Area Officer (FAO) Rating
2006 18th Wing Top Tanker Crew
2007 1 of 10 Department of Defense-Wide Outstanding Americans by Choice
2011 Northeast Asian Foreign Area Officer (FAO) Rating
2013 Pacific Air Force Language Capable Airmen of the Year
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant May 27, 1998
First Lieutenant May 27, 2000
Captain May 27, 2002
Major November 1, 2007
Lieutenant Colonel March 1, 2013
Colonel June 1, 2019
(Current as of August 2020)