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NEWS | Oct. 9, 2020

New Leadership for the Georgia Army National Guard

By Maj. William Carraway Georgia National Guard

Brigadier General Dwayne Wilson assumed command of the Georgia Army National Guard from Maj. Gen. Randall Simmons Jr. during a ceremony at the Clay National Guard Center Oct. 9, 2020. Wilson is Georgia’s 16th Assistant Adjutant General-Army to serve since the position was created by the passage of the Georgia Military Forces Reorganization Act of 1955.

“As I leave today, sad to say goodbye, I am even more excited for the future as Brig. Gen. Dwayne Wilson assumes command,” said Simmons during the change of command ceremony. “(General Wilson), best of luck in the future. Thanks for your many years as a colleague, friend and mentor. I truly wish you and Samantha the best as you take the Ga. ARNG to new heights.”

Simmons commanded the Ga. ARNG from September 2017 until his selection to serve as commanding general of Joint Task Force North headquartered in Fort Bliss, Texas. During the ceremony, Simmons reflected on his career in the Georgia Army National Guard and his upcoming assignment.

“Today is bittersweet,” said Simmons. "It is hard to believe after almost 32 years serving in the Georgia Guard, that I am leaving. I am certainly grateful and excited for the opportunities ahead of me at Joint task Force North, but at the same time, I have feelings of trepidation and sadness, primarily because I won’t have the same daily interaction with you.”

To symbolize the change of command, Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, Adjutant General of the Georgia Department of Defense, transferred the organizational colors from Simmons to Wilson. Wilson then placed the colors in the guardianship of Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Logan, Command Sergeant Major of the Ga. ARNG.

Carden praised Simmons in his remarks, noting particularly his steadfast leadership of the Ga. DoD’s Coronavirus Joint Task Force.

“Major General Simmons has led with distinction,” said Carden. “Whether in combat or here at home, Simmons has set the standard.”

Carden recounted Simmons inspired leadership of the Ga. DOD’s joint task force for the Coronavirus response and civil support to law enforcement which is the longest domestic response operation in the history of the Ga. DoD. Carden credited the organization’s success to Simmons’ vision and determination to create and maintain readiness throughout the force.

“The Department of Defense divides the globe into six geographic combatant commands,” said Carden. “The Georgia Army National Guard is providing support to all six at the moment. We are globally engaged like never before. In addition, Simmons led out joint task force in response to both the global pandemic and civil unrest. The outstanding results speak for themselves.”

Enlisting in 1989 as a private in the Statesboro-based 2nd Battalion, 214th Field Artillery, Simmons subsequently earned his commission from the Georgia Military Institute’s Officer Candidate School. From 1992 to 2006, Simmons served in a variety of assignments with the Savannah-based 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery Regiment, a unit whose history predates the American Revolution. Simmons deployed to Iraq in 2005 as the executive officer of the 1-118th. He commanded the Calhoun-based 1st Squadron 108th Cavalry Regiment in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010 and commanded the Macon-based 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from 2013 to 2015, during which time he served as commander of Task Force Volunteer in Kabul, Afghanistan. Simmons served as the chief of staff for the Ga. ARNG from 2015 until his appointment as commanding general. During his command tenure, the Georgia Army National Guard has grown in strength and capability adding nearly 300 personnel and activating new units such as the 1st Battalion, 54th Security Forces Assistance Brigade, and 265th Chemical Battalion while mobilizing nearly 3,000 of Georgia’s Citizen Soldiers overseas.

“It is because of your combined efforts we were able to accomplish so much over the past three years," said Simmons who proceeded to recount some of the many achievements of the Ga. ARNG since 2017. These included 13 deployments, 18 overseas deployment missions and response missions following Hurricanes Irma and Michael.

Assuming command of the Ga. ARNG is Brig. Gen. Dwayne Wilson, former director of the joint staff and state aviation officer for Georgia. Wilson’s military career began in 1987. He commissioned as an aviation-branched officer in 1993, and served eight years in Army aviation before transferring to the Ga. ARNG in 2001. He commanded Company E, 1-171st Aviation Regiment and led the 148th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) from 2003 to 2004. Wilson commanded the 1-171st Aviation Regiment from 2008 to 2012, including a tour of duty in Iraq from 2011 to 2012. Upon return, he served as deputy chief of staff for logistics for the Ga. ARNG and completed Army War College. From 2014 to 2018 Wilson commanded the 78th Aviation Troop Command and later served as chief of staff for the Ga. ARNG and, ultimately, Director of the Joint Staff for the Ga. DOD.

During his remarks, Wilson thanked Maj. Gen. Simmons for his leadership.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with (Simmons) both as his chief of staff and, more recently as the DJS,” said Wilson. “I can’t think of a more qualified officer to lead Army North’s JTF-N. Thank you for your leadership, mentorship and friendship.”

Wilson also recognized the considerable contributions made by the members of the Ga. DoD in 2020.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my career that I’ve been more proud of the hard work of our formations,” said Wilson. “Daily, I witness Soldiers and leaders of all ranks demonstrating an unprecedented amount of agility, discipline and professionalism.”

In his farewell remarks, Simmons expressed appreciation to his family, Maj. Gen. Carden, and the Soldiers of the Ga. ARNG with whom he had served for more than three decades.

“If my service in this position has done nothing else, I hope it inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more,” said Simmons. “In this organization anything is possible.”