Colonel Katharine G. Branson is the Commander, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Space Force Base, Fla. AFTAC operates and maintains the United States Atomic Energy Detection System to monitor foreign compliance with various treaties limiting nuclear testing. The focus of AFTAC’s more than 1,000 professionals is to detect special events in the atmosphere, underwater, underground, and in space to determine if they are nuclear and to report them to U.S. senior decision makers.
Colonel Branson earned her commission through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Georgia in June 1997, where she earned Distinguished Graduate honors. She is a career intelligence officer with experience in airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Air Operations Center operations and national-level intelligence programs. She has spent time at NATO, major command and unit-level intelligence support activities, and commanded at the squadron and group levels. She has deployed in support of several operations including Operation Allied Force; Operation Joint Guardian at the NATO Headquarters for Kosovo Forces in Pristina, Kosovo; and repeatedly in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Resolute Support at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Following her completion of the in-residence Master of Public Policy Program at Princeton University, she served as the Senior Duty Officer in the White House Situation Room. Prior to her current assignment, Colonel Branson was the commander of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center’s Space, Missiles and Forces Intelligence Group at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
1997 Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese Language and Literature, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.
2003 Master of Arts degree in International Relations and Security Policies, St. Mary’s University College, San Antonio, Texas (Dean’s List)
2004 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2007 Air Command and Staff College (correspondence)
2011 Master of Public Policy degree, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. 2012 Air War College (correspondence)
2016 Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy, National War College, Fort McNair, Washington D.C.
1. August – December 1997, Casual Status Officer, 20th Operations Support Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing, Shaw AFB, S.C.
2. January – September 1998, Student, Intelligence Applications Officer Course, Goodfellow AFB, Texas
3. Oct 1998 – May 2001, Chief, Special Security and Intel Systems, 93rd Air Control Wing, Robins AFB, Ga.
4. June 2001 – April 2004, Command Intelligence Briefer, Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas
5. April 2004 – April 2005, Senior Intelligence Duty Officer, U.S. Central Command Combined Air Operations Center, Al Udeid AB, Qatar
6. April 2005 – May 2006, Chief, Personnel Recovery Branch, National Reconnaissance Office, Chantilly, Va.
7. May 2006 – May 2008, Chief, Space Tactics Division, National Reconnaissance Office, Chantilly, Va.
8. June 2008 – July 2010, Director of Operations, 451st Intelligence Squadron, RAF Menwith Hill, U.K.
9. July 2010 – June 2011, Student, Master of Public Policy, Princeton University
10. July 2011 – June 2013, Senior Duty Officer, White House Situation Room, Washington, D.C.
11. June 2013 – July 2015, Commander, 324th Intelligence Squadron, Hickam AFB, Hawaii
12. August 2015 – June 2016, Student, National War College, Ft. McNair, Washington D.C.
13. June 2016 –June 2017, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Warfighter Support, Pacific Command Branch Chief, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
14. June 2017 – July 2018, Chief, ISR Division, 609th CAOC, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar
15. July 2018 – June 2020, Commander, Space, Missiles, and Forces Intelligence Group, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
16. June 2020 – Present, Commander, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick SFB, Fla.
SUMMARY OF JOINT ASSIGNMENTS
July 2011 – June 2013, Senior Duty Officer, White House Situation Room, Washington, D.C., as a major and lieutenant colonel
June 2016 –June 2017, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Warfighter Support, Pacific Command Branch Chief, Pentagon, Washington, D.C., as a lieutenant colonel
June 2017 – July 2018, Chief, ISR Division, 609th CAOC, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, as a colonel
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Legion of Merit
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Meritorious Service Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal
National Defense Medal
Kosovo Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal NATO Medal
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant July 14, 1997
First Lieutenant July 14, 1999
Captain July 14, 2001
Major May 1, 2007
Lieutenant Colonel Dec. 1, 2011
Colonel March 1, 2018
(Current as of October 2021)