Officer nominated to lead 16th Air Force, information warfare command

Maj. Gen. Thomas Hensley was nominated to be the next commander of 16th Air Force, a pivotal time for the organization as the Air Force is in the midst of elevating its cyber component, which serves beneath 16th Air Force.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas Hensley, 16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) deputy commander, provides closing remarks during the 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing Annual Awards Ceremony, March 15, 2024, at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos)

Maj. Gen. Thomas Hensley was nominated by President Joe Biden to lead the Air Force’s information warfare command, the Pentagon announced Friday.

Hensley is currently the deputy commander of 16th Air Force, the service’s integrated information warfare entity, which encompasses cyber, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, electromagnetic spectrum operations and weather, among others. It serves as the service component to U.S. Cyber Command and the cryptologic component to the National Security Agency conducting signals intelligence.

The organization was created in the fall of 2019 to integrate the disparate functions of information warfare across the Air Force, one of the first in a series of reorganizations across the U.S. military to address the growing field of IW and combat similar integrated and reorganized factions of adversary militaries such as China and Russia.

If confirmed, Hensley will pin on a third star and take over for Lt. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, who has served in the role since the summer of 2022.


Previously, Hensley has primarily served in intelligence roles, with a recent stint as the deputy director of operations for combat support at NSA, and little to no dedicated cyber roles.

Hensley takes over at a pivotal time for 16th Air Force. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall in February announced sweeping changes to the service as part of a reoptimization plan to better organize the department to fight China. As part of that revamp, Air Forces Cyber will be elevated.

However, what that means in practice is less clear, even months later, as the Air Force is still gaming out what that will look like.

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