This story was originally published at 5:56 p.m. EDT  May 12, 2016.

The Air Force will soon have a new director of public affairs.spokesman, according to an internal Pentagon leadership announcement. 

Brig. Gen. Edward Thomas, Jr. is moving into the job from his current position as head , is poised to lead the Air Force's public affairs department. Thomas is transitioning from his position as the commander of the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education at the Air University, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, in Alabama, according to the announcementthe announcement said.

He will advise the Air Force secretary and chief of staff on public affairs matters, develop communication strategies to advance the cause of the Air Force, and guide a worldwide public affairs staff of 5,500 active duty, Guard and Reserve airmen and civilians.

Thomas was promoted from colonel on May 12, according to his Air Force biography.

Thomas takes over for Brig. Gen. Kathleen Cook, who. Cook will become move on as the will become director of services for the Air Force deputy chief of staff in the Office of Manpower, Personnel and Services at the Pentagon. She will work for Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, who oversees plans and policies covering all life cycles of military and civilian personnel management. There she will be responsible for military and civilian end strength management, education and training, compensation, resource allocation and the worldwide Air Force services program.

Cook served as director of public affairs for about two years.

"There is no one, specific time frame [for this position]," an Air Force spokeswoman told Air Force Times. "It's not unusual for those in directorate positions to move on, and "Gen. Cook has a lot of experience in the mission support realm.," she explained. 

Both Thomas and Cook will move into their new roles on June 13, she said.

Thomas has held prior public affairs positions. as the director of public affairs: He served as the special assistant for public affairs to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff between 2013 and 2015. He was the director of public affairs for U.S. European Command and for Pacific Air Forces a few years before thatprior, among other assignments

Cook was in the position for two years. She's Cook has had two Pentagon assignments and four command assignments, including commander of the 90th Mission Support Group at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.  

The service's public affairs office took heat last month after a survey published in Foreign Policy magazine ranked the Air Force last for response time and professionalism when dealing with the press.

"Obviously we took note of the information," Cook said in a statement to Air Force Times. "We're always open to feedback and, as such, we've been speaking with reporters in the Pentagon Press Corps to better understand their concerns and to determine what we can do better to meet their needs. We also spoke with our sister service counterparts.  We're in the process of implementing some of the suggestions  that included reviewing different technology to push video and updating our websites with clearer contact information.

"Bottom line, we're committed to fostering transparency and trust, and we'll continue to benchmark ways to improve our communication capabilities to share the Air Force story," Cook said.

Oriana Pawlyk covers deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime and operations in the Middle East and Europe for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at

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