Lieutenant Colonel Paula Kelly to Lead Air Force ROTC Detachment

Kelly oversees all operations and policy for the detachment hosted at Manhattan College.

Change of command at AFROTC

Col Thomas Bongiovi, Commander, NE Region, AFROTC, passes the guidon to Lt Col Paula Kelly at the Det 560 Change of Command, July 18, 2019. (photo by 2Lt T. deRozairo)

A decorated officer with two decades of experience in the Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Paula A. Kelly is the new commander of the Air Force ROTC, Detachment 560, hosted at Manhattan College. She assumed command of the detachment on July 18. 

Air Force ROTC is the largest commissioning source for the Air Force, developing air and space leaders for America. Overall, Air Force ROTC commissions over 2,000 Second Lieutenants each year in a variety of career fields, such as pilots, cyber officers, engineers and a host of career paths. 

“One of our Air Force core values is ‘service before self’,” Lt. Col. Kelly said. “That’s in line with the mission and vision of Manhattan College and how both institutions approach teaching and mentoring our students. Encouraging students to serve something bigger than themselves in support of their nation — this ideal is one that both our programs share which serve as a foundation for our partnership.” Since 1951, Manhattan College has hosted AFROTC. The detachment and Manhattan College share a proud heritage of serving a student population for the greater New York City area.  

As the Commander, Lt. Col. Kelly oversees all operations and policy for the detachment and is responsible for the training and mentoring of more than 150 cadets from 33 colleges, universities and the US Merchant Marine Academy, in pursuit of officership in the United States Air Force. She chairs Manhattan College’s department of Aerospace Studies and is the direct liaison to President Brennan O’Donnell.

Lt. Col. Kelly entered the Air Force in 2000, earning her bachelor’s degree at the United States Air Force Academy and her master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School. As an Air Force officer, she has held numerous positions at the flight, group, wing, AF, COCOM, and NATO coalition staff levels. Lt. Col. Kelly has served on three deployments; most recently deployed to Afghanistan as the Director CJ-1, Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air), located in Kabul.

Air Force ROTC offers high school and college students opportunities to join, receive scholarships and month stipends while they work toward their goal of receiving a commission in the Air Force. The program allows students to try out the Air Force for up to two years without incurring any obligation. Service to the nation, developing personal leadership skills, and graduating with reduced, little or no debt make ROTC an attractive program for many students. For more information, visit

By Pete McHugh