Colonel Nathan T. Colunga is currently assigned as Vice Commander, 352d Special Operations Wing, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom. He assists in directing the operations of more than 1,200 active-duty and civilian Airmen performing missions on MC-130J Commando II and CV-22B Osprey aircraft for U.S. Air Force Special Operations in the U.S. European Command.
Prior to his assignment to RAF Mildenhall, Colonel Colunga was the Deputy Director for Irregular Warfare Policy, in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC), Pentagon, Washington, D.C. In this role, he developed the Department's policies, plans, authorities and resources related to special operations and irregular warfare, with special emphasis on ally, partner and interagency partnerships. Colonel Colunga was also the commander of the 17th Special Operations Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan and led the transition of that unit from the MC-130P Combat Shadow to the MC-130J Commando II. The primary mission of the unit is night low-level infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces as well as aerial refueling of vertical lift assets in hostile, denied and politically sensitive areas.
Col Colunga has served multiple overseas assignments including tours to Germany, Japan, and England serving as a navigator, instructor and evaluator at the squadron and group level. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and has led joint special operations forces on multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. During his most recent deployment he served as the J3 Director for the Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component – Afghanistan. Colonel Colunga is married and has two children.
2000 Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, The University of Texas at Austin, TX
2007 Squadron Officers School (DG), Maxwell AFB, AL
2010 Air Command and Staff College, by correspondence
2011 Master of Arts, Military Studies, American Military University, Charles Town, WV
2013 Master of Arts, National Security and Strategic Studies, Naval Command Staff College, Newport, RI
2017 Master of Science, National Resource Strategy, Eisenhower School (ICAF), Fort McNair, D.C.
August 2000 - August 2001, Student, Jt Specialized Undergraduate Navigator Training, Randolph AFB, TX
November 2001 - April 2002, Student, C-130 initial mission qualification training, Little Rock AFB, AR
May 2002 - July 2004, C-130E Navigator, Tactics Officer, 37th Airlift Squadron, Ramstein AB, GE
July 2004 - November 2004, Student, MC-130P initial mission qualification training, Kirtland AFB, NM
November 2004 - June 2006, MC-130P Instructor Nav, 17th Special Operations Squadron, Kadena AB, JP
June 2006 - November 2008, Chief, Weapons & Tactics, 353d Special Operations Group, Kadena AB, JP
November 2008 - March 2010, Chief, Stan/Eval, 67th Special Operations Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, UK
March 2010 - October 2011, Chief, Group Stan/Eval, 353d Special Operations Group, RAF Mildenhall, UK
October 2011 - June 2012, Assistant Ops Officer, 67th Special Operations Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, UK
July 2012 - July 2013, Student, Naval Command and Staff College, Newport, RI
July 2013 - May 2014, Operations Officer, 9th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, FL
June 2014 - July 2016, Commander, 17th Special Operations Squadron, Kadena AB, JP
July 2016 - June 2017, Student, Eisenhower School (ICAF), National Defense University, Fort McNair, D.C.
June 2017 - July 2019, Branch Chief, Force Assessment, Sufficiency & Readiness, JCS/J8, Pentagon, D.C.
July 2019 - June 2020, Deputy Dir, Irregular Warfare Policy, OSD/SOLIC, Pentagon, D.C.
June 2020 - Present, Vice Commander, 352d Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall, UK
Rating: Master Navigator
Flight hours: More than 3,300
Aircraft flown: MC-130J, MC-130P, C-130E, T-43
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Force Achievement Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant, 21 August 2000
First Lieutenant, 21 August 2002
Captain, 21 August 2004
Major, 1 August 2010
Lieutenant Colonel, 1 December 2013
Colonel, 1 February 2020
(Current as of July 2020)