Col. Mizell takes AEDC command

  • Published
  • By Bradley Hicks
  • AEDC Public Affairs

If one were to throw a dart at a map of the world, there is a good chance it would land in close proximity to an Air Force assignment held by Col. Grant Mizell.

Mizell’s tours throughout his career have included stints in Texas, Arkansas, California, Korea, the United Kingdom, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Washington, D.C.

Add Tennessee to the list.

Family, friends, colleagues, elected officials, and members of local organizations and the community watched on as Mizell became the 33rd commander of Arnold Engineering Development Complex on June 13, 2024, during a Change of Command ceremony in the Arnold Lakeside Complex at Arnold Air Force Base.

“I could not have asked for a better place or better people to share this place with,” Mizell said after accepting the guidon to take command of AEDC.

As commander of AEDC, headquartered at Arnold AFB, Mizell is charged with leading a complex that employs more than 3,000 people and comprises aerospace test facilities across seven states. Along with the facilities at Arnold AFB, AEDC operating locations include the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex at Moffett Field, California, and Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 at White Oak, Maryland, as well as those at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico; Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico; Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Edwards Air Force Base, California; and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

The test facilities across AEDC are capable of simulating speed, temperature, pressure and other parameters over a wide range to meet the needs of aerospace system developers. These facilities simulate flight from subsonic to hypersonic speeds at altitudes from sea level to space. The AEDC mission is to test and evaluate systems to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy.

Mizell said he is looking forward to getting started with his latest assignment.

“To the men and women of AEDC, thank you for allowing me to join the team,” he said. “It would be an understatement to say that I am excited to have a role in this fantastic enterprise. As the Air Force goes through historic reorganization, the department continues to pivot to compete against near-peer adversaries, and the United States is required now more than ever to exercise its global leadership. I know that this small team of teams - military, civilian and contractor, Airmen and Guardians - will continue to forge our nation’s next sword and shield.”

Mizell was commissioned in 1999 through the U.S. Air Force Academy. There, he earned a bachelor’s degree in operations research. Mizell would later earn a master’s in aviation system from the University of Tennessee Space Institute.

He is also a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College, which are all based at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Among additional educational achievements, Mizell also earned a Master of Military Operational Art and Science from the Air University at Maxwell AFB and completed the Air Force Mishap Investigation Course and Air Force Safety Board President’s Course, both based at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Mizell is a command pilot with more than 3,200 hours as an instructor, evaluator and test pilot with both the U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force. He has flown more than 50 types of aircraft, including multiple variants of the C-130 Hercules, the C-17 Globemaster III, the L-1011 TriStar and the RC-135. Mizell accumulated more than 580 combat flight hours on six deployed tours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, in the Balkans and in support of contingency operations in Africa.

The incoming AEDC commander brings more than 24 years of active-duty experience to his new post at Arnold. This includes assignments at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany, as a combat pilot in C-130 aircraft, an exchange opportunity with the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom and multiple assignments on the Air Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Mizell was also commander of the 645th Aeronautical Systems Squadron, otherwise known as Big Safari. He served as professor and the military fellow to the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., served as the Joint Staff’s liaison to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and was the Chief of the Joint Operations Coordination Element, the primary liaison between the Senior U.S. Military Office in Korea and the Republic of Korea Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Prior to taking command of AEDC, Mizell served as deputy commander of the Air Force Test Center, headquartered at Edwards AFB. The AFTC is a $31-billion enterprise of more than 19,000 military, civilian and contractor personnel across Edwards AFB, Arnold AFB, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and more than 30 geographically separated units.

Before this assignment, Mizell served as the 412th Test Wing Operations Group Commander at Edwards AFB, where he was credited with leading developmental test and evaluation of most aircraft in the Air Force inventory. 

Among his awards and decorations, Mizell has received the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Combat Action Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with silver oak leaf cluster and bronze oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster and Aerial Achievement Medal with silver oak leaf cluster.

To conclude the Change of Command ceremony, Mizell, addressing members of Team AEDC, said the complex must remain the “frontline” in ensuring the nation maintains the technical advantage over its adversaries.

“I’m chomping at the bit to join each one of you in keeping the American democratic values in the driver’s seat, to join each of you in preventing alternative world order and join each of you in developing the next warring capability for America,” Mizell said. “God bless you, you who have been executing this mission. I’m ready to join you and get to business.”