Colonel Thomas M. Tauer

​​Col. Thomas Tauer​ is the ​Deputy Commander,​ ​96th Test Wing, Eglin AFB, Fla​.  He leads more than 10,000 military, civilian, and contractor personnel, in accomplishing the 96th Test Wing’s missions of developmental testing and evaluation of conventional munitions, command and control systems, aircraft avionics and guidance systems, and radar cross section measurement. The 96th Test Wing has eight groups and 32 squadrons, operates 38 uniquely modified test aircraft, and manages 120,000 square miles of over-water test ranges plus facilities in six states. He also directs all base operating support, infrastructure, and services support for the Air Force’s largest installation at 726 square miles. The 96th Test Wing hosts nine tenant wings and wing equivalent units—to include the 33d Fighter Wing (F-35 Joint Strike Fighter), 53rd Wing (Operational Test), 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing, U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training Center—and 37 other associate units including the U.S. Army 6th Ranger Training Battalion and the 20th Space Surveillance Squadron. As deputy commander, he interacts with local officials across a three-county, 11-city region with an annual military economic impact of $10.8 billion.   

Col Tauer earned his commission in May 2003 from the United States Air Force Academy.  He has flown as an F16 instructor pilot and evaluator with combat experience in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Col Tauer has also served as a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Fellow, Joint Staff Officer, Wing Chief of Safety, and Flight Test Squadron Commander.  Prior to his current position, Col Tauer was a Senior Developmental Education student at the U.S. Naval War College. 

Col Tauer is a command pilot with more than 2,300 flying hours in a variety of aircraft, including over 200 combat hours. 


2003 Bachelor of Science, Aeronautical Engineering, USAF Academy, Colo. 

2009 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala. 

2011 Master of Science, Aeronautical Science, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Ariz. 

2012 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence 

2014 Master of Science, Flight Test Engineering, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, Calif. 

2015 Master of Science, Aeronautical Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 

2017 DARPA Fellowship, Arlington, Va. 

2023 Master of Arts, National Security and Strategic Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Naval Station Newport, R.I. 


1.  July 2003 – May 2005, Student, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Sheppard AFB, Texas 

2.  May 2005 – September 2006, Student, F-16 Upgrade Training, 61st Fighter Squadron, Luke AFB, Ariz. 

3.  September 2006 – December 2007, F-16 Pilot/Assistant Chief of Training, 13th Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan 

(May 2007 – October 2007, F-16 Pilot/Assistant Weapons Officer, 13th FS, Balad AB, Iraq) 

4.  December 2007 – August 2009, F-16 Instructor Pilot/Activity Security Monitor, 13th FS, Misawa AB, Japan 

(February 2009 – May 2009, F-16 IP/Activity Security Monitor, 13th FS, Suwon AB, South Korea) 

5.  August 2009 – October 2010, F-16 IP/Flight Commander, 62nd Fighter Squadron, Luke AFB, Ariz. 

6.  October 2010 – May 2012, F-16 Evaluator Pilot (EP)/Standardization & Evaluation Officer, 56th Operations Group, Luke AFB, Ariz. 

7.  May 2012 – August 2012, F-16 EP/Assistant Director of Operations (ADO), 62nd FS, Luke AFB, Ariz. 

8.  August 2012 – December 2013, Student/Class Leader, AFIT, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 

9.  December 2013 – February 2015, Student/Class Leader, USAF Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, Calif. 

10.  February 2015 – December 2015, F-16 IP/Test Pilot/Training Flight Commander, Eglin AFB, Fla. 

11.  December 2015 – July 2016, F-16 IP/Test Pilot/ADO, 40th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla. 

12.  July 2016 – May 2017, Fellow, DARPA, Arlington, Va. 

13.  May 2017 – May 2019, Requirements Officer/Electronic Warfare & Autonomous Systems Lead, Joint Staff J8, Pentagon, Washington D.C. 

14.  May 2019 – July 2020, Wing Chief of Safety, assignment data masked. 

15.  July 2020 – July 2022, Commander, Flight Test Squadron, assignment data masked. 

16.  July 2022 – June 2023, Student, United States Naval War College, Naval Station Newport, R.I. 

17.  July 2023 – Present, Deputy Commander, 96th Test Wing, Eglin AFB, Fla. 


  1. May 2017 – May 2019, Requirements Officer/Electronic Warfare & Autonomous Systems Lead, Joint Staff J8, Pentagon, Washington D.C., as a lieutenant colonel 


Rating:  command pilot 

Flight hours:  more than 2,300 

Aircraft flown:  F-16, experimental, and 29 others 


Defense Meritorious Service Medal 

Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster 

Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters 

Aerial Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster 

Air and Space Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters 


2003 Distinguished Graduate, US Air Force Academy 

2004 Distinguished Graduate, Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training 

2006 Daedalian Leadership Award, F-16 Initial Qualification Course 

2008 Group Flight Lead of the Year, 35th Operations Group 

2009 Distinguished Graduate, Squadron Officer School 

2011 Group CGO of the Year, 56th Operations Group 

2014 Distinguished Graduate/Liethen-Tittle Award, US Air Force Test Pilot School 

2014 Onizuka Prop Wash Award, US Air Force Test Pilot School 

2018 Deputy Director Action Officer of the Year, Joint Staff J8 

2020 AFMC Special Programs Test Team of the Year 

2022 AFMC Special Programs Test Team of the Year 

2023 Distinguished Graduate with Highest Distinction, US Naval War College 


Command pilot 



Full member, Society of Experimental Test Pilots 


Second Lieutenant May 28, 2003 

First Lieutenant May 28, 2005 

Captain May 28, 2007 

Major May 1, 2013 

Lieutenant Colonel Dec. 1, 2016 

Colonel April 1, 2022