By Maj. William Carraway
Colonel Alexander McLemore relinquished command of the Georgia Army National Guard’s Marietta-based 201st Regional Support Group, during a ceremony at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Dec. 6, 2020. The 201st, one of ten National Guard units assigned a homeland response force, has been actively engaged throughout the year supporting coronavirus response missions and augmenting law enforcement operations following civil unrest.
McLemore’s command of the 201st follows three decades of military service. Within months of graduating from the Georgia Military Institute in August 2000, McLemore deployed to Bosnia with the 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment. In 2003, he again mobilized overseas with the 3rd Army. Returning in 2004, McLemore began a long association with logistics and the 148th Brigade Support Battalion where he served as logistics officer during the unit’s deployment to Iraq in 2005. McLemore then served as commander of the Jackson-based Company B. In 2014, McLemore deployed with the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team to Afghanistan where he served as the garrison commander of Camp Phoenix. Returning to the United States, McLemore commanded the 148th Brigade Support Battalion before being selected to serve as the director of logistics for the Ga. ARNG. McLemore commanded the rear detachment of the 201st RSG during the brigade’s rotation to Iraq from 2018 to 2019 and assumed command of the 201st RSG shortly after its return to the US.
In his remarks during the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Dwayne Wilson, commander of the Ga. ARNG, observed that the 201st RSG was exceptionally busy during McLemore’s tenure in command. The 170th Military Police Battalion deployed personnel and equipment to the country of Georgia for exercise Agile Spirit in July 2019 while the 248th Medical Company deployed for overseas contingency operations the following November. Soldiers of the 201st were among the first assigned to COVID-19 response operations in March 2020. The unit is credited with developing and standardizing the Infection Control Team concept. Through the rest of 2020, the 201st, as Task Force Hazard conducted infection control team missions and supported mobile and site testing while preparing for hurricane response during the most active Atlantic hurricane season in history. The 201st mobilized personnel and equipment in support of law enforcement operations following civil unrest in Atlanta on May 29 and has had personnel in support of public safety operations since.
Following his command of the 201st, McLemore will serve as the United States Property and Fiscal Officer for the Ga. DoD. During his remarks at the ceremony, McLemore praised the Soldiers, NCOs and officers of the 201st RSG, recognizing them for their efforts during the historic response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“For everything this unit has accomplished, it was the effort of the individual Soldier that was the most amazing,” said McLemore. “It is what all of you did that defined our collective success.”
The incoming commander of the 201st, Col. Shane Strickland, is no stranger to its homeland response force mission. A 1997 graduate of GMI, Strickland began his commissioned service with the 1st Battalion, 214th Field Artillery Regiment and commanded Battery B in Thomson, Ga. Following a deployment to Afghanistan with an embedded training team, Strickland served as operations officer of the Fort Benning-based 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Next, he commanded the 4th Civil Support Team where he led hundreds of real-world response missions before a tenure as deputy commander of the 201st. After assignments to Joint Force Headquarters and the Pentagon, Strickland was appointed chief information officer for the Ga. ARNG. During the COVID-19 response, Strickland served as the CIO for the Ga. DOD Coronavirus Joint Task Force overseeing innovative information sharing with state agencies involved in the coordinated coronavirus response.
With more than 1,200 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen assigned, The mission of the 201st RSG is to provide trained and ready troops to support overseas contingency operations and to man, train and equip a homeland response force to assist civil authorities in saving lives.