The commander of the Alaska Air National Guard moved up in the ranks Sunday. The former Col. Karen Mansfield is now a Brigadier General.


Her responsibilities will mostly remain the same. As commander of the Air Guard, she oversees the training for 2,000 Alaska citizen airmen in two flying wings. She also coordinates assisting state and federal worldwide missions with Alaska’s airlift, rescue and aerial refueling capabilities.


She graduated from officer training school in 1989 and spent part of her career in Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Before moving back, she was most recently a director of support for the Western Air Defense Sector in the Washington Air National Guard.


Several of Mansfield’s family members flew in for the ceremony Sunday. Mansfield said she’s honored and humbled by the promotion, and happy to be serving in Alaska.


“I just love the place and the people,” she said. “When I got off the plane and stepped on the tarmac the first time, I fell in love with it. And I’ve always, always just kind of affiliated with that independent spirit that we have up here and I have been all over the place, and I always felt like this was coming home.”


She said her biggest priority lies in the Arctic.


“Right now, my main goal is to support General Hummel and one of her primary objectives of working towards a viable Arctic policy,” she said. “There’s not much essentially defined right now, but there’s a lot of conversation. We just want to make sure that we’re a part of the conversation as the Alaska Air National Guard, that we’re active in it, that we’re making very clear we know what our capabilities are, what we could potentially bring to that conversation, and that’s pretty much where we are with that policy.”