Colonel Houston R. Cantwell is commander of the 49th Wing, Holloman AFB, N.M. The wing serves as the primary remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) training schoolhouse for the U.S. Air Force, training over 600 MQ-9 pilots and sensor operators annually. Additionally, the wing provides support to more than 17,000 military and civilian personnel to include the 54th Fighter Group (F-16 Fighting Falcon training operations), 645th Materiel Maintenance Group (Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources), the 704th Test Group, and German Air Force Flying Training Center operations.

Colonel Cantwell was commissioned in 1994 from the University of Virginia as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program. He completed Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus AFB, Miss. as the outstanding graduate in 1996 and is a command pilot with over 2,000 flying hours. He has commanded at the squadron and group levels, most recently at Creech AFB, Nev. where he led the execution of 22 RPA Combat Air Patrols supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. He has served on various staffs including Headquarters Air Force, Major Command, Numbered Air Force, and International Security Assistance Force Headquarters.

Prior to his current assignment, Colonel Cantwell was the Director of Operations for U.S. Forces in Japan.

1994 Bachelor of Science degree in systems engineering, University of Virginia, Va.
1999 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2002 Master of Arts degree in Organizational Management, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
2006 Master of Arts degree in Military Operational Art and Science, Air Command & Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2007 Master of Arts degree in Airpower Art & Science, School of Advanced Air & Space Studies, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2008 Air War College, by correspondence
2012 Master of Arts degree in National Security Strategy, National War College, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.
2015 Enterprise Leadership Seminar, Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, N.C.

1. September 1994 - June 1996, Student, undergraduate pilot training, Columbus AFB, Miss.
2. July 1996 - May 1997, Student, F-16 training, Luke AFB, Ariz.
3. May 1997 - February 1999, F-16CG aircraft commander, Osan Air Base, South Korea
4. February 1999 - June 2000, F-16CG aircraft commander, Moody AFB, Ga.
5. July 2000 - June 2002, Intern and graduate student, Headquarters Air Force, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
6. July 2002 - July 2005, F-16CJ instructor pilot, later, Flight Commander and Wing Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, Misawa Air Base, Japan
7. August 2005 - July 2006, Student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
8. July 2006 - August 2007, Student, School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
9. August 2007 - March 2009, Staff officer, Policy & Doctrine and Operations Divisions, Third Air Force, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
10. March 2009 - May 2010, Executive officer to the Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
11. May 2010 - May 2011, Commander, 455th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan
12. June 2011 - June 2012, Student, National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
13. July 2012 - August 2012, Student, MQ-9 transition course, Holloman AFB, N.M.
14. Sept 2012 - March 2014, Commander, 732nd Operations Group, Creech AFB, Nev.
15. March 2014 - July 2016, Director of Operations, U.S. Forces Japan, Yokota Air Base, Japan
16. July 2016 - present, Commander, 49th Wing, Holloman AFB, N.M.

1. March 2014 – July 2016: Director of Operations, U.S. Forces Japan, Yokota AB, Japan, as a Colonel

Rating: command pilot
Flight hours: more than 2,000, including more than 400 combat hours
Aircraft flown: T-37, T-38, F-16, and MQ-9

Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster
Japan Defense Cooperation Medal


Second Lieutenant May 22, 1994
First Lieutenant June 1, 1996
Captain June 1, 1998
Major Jan. 1, 2005
Lieutenant Colonel June 1, 2008
Colonel July 1, 2012

(Current as of Nov 2016)