Air Force’s 1st female fighter pilot achieves another 1st at Nellis

Keeping in lockstep with the Pentagon’s direction to open all positions, including combat roles, to women, Nellis Air Force Base will also break the gender barrier this year in its command leadership.

Base officials confirmed Tuesday that Col. Jeannie M. Leavitt will join the ranks of the base’s top brass by taking the reins of the 57th Wing, becoming the highest-ranking female officer to command at Nellis.

“We look forward to her leadership here,” Nellis public affairs officer Maj. Teresa Sullivan said.

She noted that command leadership positions at Nellis have always been open to women, but this is the first time that a woman will command the 57th Wing. She was selected because she was the most qualified for the position, Sullivan said.

Selected for the rank of brigadier general, she will command the wing, which manages all flying operations at the base, including Red Flag and Green Flag air combat training exercises. The 57th Wing also runs the graduate-level U.S. Air Force Weapons School, oversees the world-renowned Thunderbirds air demonstration team and supports the Air Force Warfare Center’s test-and-evaluation activities.

Leavitt, who became the Air Force’s first female fighter pilot in 1993, currently serves as Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s principal military assistant at the Pentagon. Attempts to reach her Tuesday through a duty officer at the Office of the Secretary of Defense were unsuccessful because of closures in Washington, D.C., due to this week’s heavy snowfall.

She is an F-15 pilot whose flight hours include 300 in combat, mostly over Afghanistan and Iraq but also in Operation Southern Watch in the Middle East, where she helped thwart an Iraqi surface-to-air threat against a United Kingdom aircraft in 1996.

Her selection for brigadier general was announced Jan. 21 by the Pentagon along with promotions that affect the two-year rotation in leadership at Nellis.

Brig. Gen. Glen VanHerck, a bomber general who directs operations for the Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., was selected for promotion to major general and will be next commander of the Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis, replacing Maj. Gen. Jay Silveria.

Attempts to reach VanHerck through the Air Force press desk at the Pentagon were also unsuccessful because of snow closures.

After a change-of-command ceremony at Nellis in the coming months, Silveria will play a command role in the global war on terrorism. He will become deputy commander at U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and deputy, Combined Forces Air Component commander for U.S. Central Command, Southwest Asia.

“The courageous Airmen of the warfare center make victory possible and has prepared me for my next assignment,” Silveria said in statement, adding that he is “humbled and proud to have served as the Warfare Center commander.”

“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of this team where Nellis and Creech couldn’t do what they do without the exceptional support from the greater Las Vegas community,” Silveria said.

Nellis and Creech Air Force Base, a hub for remotely piloted aircraft operations at Indian Springs, 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas, have a combined economic impact of more than $5 billion annually on the local economy. They account for more than 38,700 personnel and dependents including active duty, reserves, Air National Guard and civilian employees.

In mid-April, Leavitt will replace Brig. Gen. Christopher M. Short as commander of the 57th Wing. Short will be a senior defense official and attache to the United Kingdom for the Defense Intelligence Agency at the U.S. Embassy in London.

“It is always bittersweet to leave command, and leaving the 57th Wing will be especially tough,” Short said. “The impact the 57th Wing has across our Air Force is unmatched and the advances we’ve made in training at the highest levels, integrating capabilities across air, space and cyber are leading … our joint force.”

Nellis’ 99th Air Base Wing commander Col. Richard Boutwell will also leave this summer for an assignment that hasn’t been announced. His replacement is Col. Paul Murray, who is serving at the National War College in Washington, D.C.

Contact Keith Rogers at or 702-383-0308. Find him on Twitter: @KeithRogers2

News Videos
Syphilis Awareness Day
Dr. Joe Iser, District Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District, discusses the effects and issues with syphilis in the Las Vegas community on April 16, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas diocese IDs 33 ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse
The Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas released a list on Friday of 33 “credibly accused” of sexual abuse who at some point served in the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CCSD Arbor View meeting
The Clark County School Board hears from the public about racial tensions at Arbor View High School on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Amelia Park-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Parents of autistic student battle Clark County School District
Joshua and Britten Wahrer, parents of a special education student, are battling the Clark County School District for the right to equip their son with a monitoring device. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Metro homeless outreach a shift in strategy
Lt. Joe Sobrio discusses the new homeless outreach team for Metro. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prayer for Opportunity Scholarships
Las Vegas students and adults hold a prayer meeting about the Opportunity Scholarship program on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Solar scams on the rise in Nevada
As Nevada’s solar industry has made a resurgence, solar scammers have followed suit.
Clark County schools and the late bus issue
Year after year, late or no-show buses in the Clark County School District draw the ire of parents and students alike. One year the problem even prompted a parent to crack a school bus window in frustration over a late drop-off. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
I-15 southbound congested near Primm Sunday afternoon
Drivers heading toward California on Interstate 15 should expect heavy traffic and a 13-mile backup Sunday afternoon.
Learning lifesaving skills in advance of fire season
Students and firefighters attend a training session at Fire Station 80 in Blue Diamond, Saturday, March 30, 2019. The training session helps volunteer firefighters obtain necessary annual certification to work wild fires.
Car restoration behind prison walls
Inmates share their experiences working for the Southern Desert Correctional Center auto body shop in Indian Springs while learning valuable skills.
Parent remembers Las Vegas boy killed by car
People visit a memorial at the intersection of South Fort Apache Road and West Arby Avenue at at Faiss Park Wednesday, March 27, 2019, where Jonathan Smith, 12, of Las Vegas, died after he was struck while crossing Fort Apache Monday. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Couple left with surprise medical bills after visit to the hospital
Michael Pistiner took his wife, Marta Menendez-Pistiner, to the ER in January after she fainted twice and appeared to be having a seizure. Despite paying $856 monthly for health insurance, the two, self-employed musicians, were stuck with more than $5,700 in hospital and doctor bills after than hour-and-a-half visit. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Las Vegas police brief the media on fatal crash
Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Nick Farese addresses the media about a car accident at South Fort Apache Road and West Arby Avenue that left one minor dead and one hospitalized on Monday, March 25, 2019. (Mike Shoro/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Arbor View parent talks about racial issues at the school
Lawanna Calhoun, a former Arbor View parent, talks about the state of the school. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Foley talks about 30 years of living HIV-positive
Jim Foley, who was diagnosed as HIV positive 30 years ago, talks at his home in Las Vegas on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Traffic Slows to a Crawl on I-15S Near Primm
Traffic slowed to a crawl around 2:30p Sunday, on I-15S near Primm, Nevada.
Homeless residents speak about safety
The homeless residents living at the corner of Owens Ave. and Main St. reflect on how they feel about their safety after two homeless men died, one was hit crossing the street and another was beat to death by another homeless man. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
CCSD Superintendent address alleged racially motivated threats at Arbor View
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara gives update on alleged racially motivated threats against Arbor View High School, and says such threats will not be tolerated. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Super Bloom Near Lake Elsinore, California
Crowds packed the hills near Lake Elsinore on Saturday to capture a rare selfie amidst the super bloom of poppies turning the landscape purple. The super bloom was caused by the larger rainfall this year. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fiery accident in Las Vegas
A three-car accident on Spring Mountain Road around 6:30 pm on Monday night
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Stardust implosion anniversary
Twelve years ago today, the Stardust Resort and Casino was imploded. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Lawsuits filed against security contractors at Nevada National Security Site
Two lawsuits were filed today against the current and former government security contractors for the Nevada National Security Site, one on behalf of Jennifer Glover who alleges sexual discrimination and assault and the other on behalf of Gus Redding who alleges retaliation after he gave statements supporting Glover’s claims. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New housing option helps Las Vegas moms keep kids while kicking drugs
WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus in Las Vegas has added a new transitional housing wing for women who have completed the inpatient treatment at the behavioral health nonprofit to help them as they go through outpatient treatment, shore up their finances and prepare to secure long-term housing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Teenager in critical condition after being struck by an SUV in Henderson
Authorities were called about 2:45 p.m. to the scene in the 2100 block of Olympic Avenue, near Green Valley Parkway and Sunset Road. The teenager was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Water Question Part 3: Conservation loves a crisis
Future growth in the Las Vegas Valley will rest almost entirely on the community’s ability to conserve its finite share of the Colorado River.
The Water Question Part 7: How much can we grow?
Many experts agree that Southern Nevada can continue to grow, so long as residents are willing to do what needs to be done to stretch our crucial resource as far as it will go.
The Water Question Part 6: How many people can Southern Nevada’s water sustain?
The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth, conservation efforts and the severity of drought on the Colorado River.
Mylar Balloon Demo
NV Energy presented a demonstration Wednesday to depict the damage that can be caused by the release of Mylar balloons.
Home Front Page Footer Listing