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AFNIC welcomes new commander

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, presents the Air Force Network Integration Center guidon to its new commander, Col. Rizwan “Riz” Ali, during a change of command ceremony Aug. 3.  AFNIC is the Air Force’s technical center of excellence for Air Force network integration.   (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Divine Cox)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, presents the Air Force Network Integration Center guidon to its new commander, Col. Rizwan “Riz” Ali, during a change of command ceremony Aug. 3. AFNIC is the Air Force’s technical center of excellence for Air Force network integration. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Divine Cox)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Col. Rizwan "Riz" Ali assumed command of the Air Force Network Integration Center from Col. Curtis O. Piontkowsky in a ceremony officiated by Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, vice commander of Air Force Space Command, here Aug. 3.

Colonel Ali joins AFNIC after spending more than a year deployed to Southwest Asia where he served as commander of the 386th Expeditionary Mission Support Group. During his 23 years in the Air Force, he has commanded two squadrons; served at the Air Staff, a combatant command staff, five major commands and two overseas locations; and participated in contingency operations in Southwest Asia, Africa and Europe.

General Basla began the ceremony praising Colonel Piontkowsky and the people of AFNIC for the great accomplishments they've achieved in the cyber realm thus far, and expressed his confidence that Colonel Ali will continue moving the organization forward.

"I'm always impressed by [AFNIC's] ability to adapt and move forward, especially in an evolving domain ... the Air Force will continue to leverage your expertise," General Basla said. "You'll have a great commander in Colonel Ali and I know he will take AFNIC to new heights."

Colonel Piontkowsky, who is retiring after 32 years of active duty service, thanked the people of AFNIC for their superb efforts and support.

"You have been central to most major developments and changes in our Air Force communications and cyber capabilities throughout my career, providing reliable, assured communications for our warfighter," said Colonel Piontkowsky. "[Colonel Ali], you are getting a national treasure. I ask that you take care of the people; I know you will, and I know they will take care of the mission."

Colonel Ali returns to AFNIC 20 years after his first assignment as a communications automated test engineer with the 1842nd Electronics Engineering Group, which later became AFNIC's Technology and Interoperability Facility.

"We are in the middle of some very exciting times for cyberspace," said Colonel Ali. "Cyber has become part of the core mission for the Air Force and entered the lexicon of our military and civilian leadership. AFNIC has been in the thick of this massive change and it's quite a privilege to be asked to command such a fantastic organization."

AFNIC, a direct reporting unit to AFSPC, is the Air Force's technical center of excellence for Air Force network integration. As such, the center enables assured cyberspace capabilities for the Air Force through shaping, provisioning, sustaining and integrating the enterprise network.