Army National Guard changes leadership
December 5, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 5, 2011) -- On the day he formally assumed the duties of the director of the Army National Guard, Maj. Gen. William E. Ingram, Jr. was also promoted to lieutenant general.
The ceremony, Nov. 28 at the Pentagon, was a standing-room-only event, as friends, family and colleagues from Ingram's almost 40-years of service as an Army National Guard officer came out to support the Army Guard's 20th director.
Ingram took on leadership of the Army National Guard from Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, who had served as the acting director for 29 months.
Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau -- which includes both the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard -- spoke about Ingram's appointment to the position Ingram.
"[He] joins a list of great Americans who have led the Army National Guard and who worked very closely with the Army and Army Reserve, and we couldn't be more pleased that this day has finally come," McKinley said.
Ingram is only the third director to hold the rank of three-star general in the position.
"As we pick somebody for this very important senior National Guard position, it's important to pick the right person," said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno.
"[He] is a guy who has been out there in the field and one who has served as adjutant general ... out there doing the tough jobs. That is exactly the kind of person we want to face the challenges ahead in the next few years."
After the presentation of the official promotion order, the pinning of his new rank by Odierno, McKinley and family members and the swearing-in, Ingram addressed the crowd for the first time as a lieutenant general.
"We live in interesting times," Ingram said. "The American people expect us to answer every call, to handle every disaster and to win every fight -- whether here at home, or abroad. Our Soldiers live in every zip code and congressional district in America, and we are a solid cross-section of the nation."
Ingram said that after 10 years at war, the Army National Guard "is undoubtedly the best that we have ever been."
A GENERAL DEPARTS
Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter handed the reins of the Army National Guard to Ingram after holding the position himself for 29-months as its acting director.
A native of Sturgis, S.D., Carpenter began his 44-year military career in 1967, when he enlisted with the South Dakota Army National Guard. A little known fact about Carpenter is that shortly thereafter he joined the U.S. Navy, where he attended the Defense Language Institute to study Vietnamese for 48-weeks.
After serving a combat tour in Danang, South Vietnam, he returned to South Dakota where he was commissioned in 1974 in the Army National Guard.
Returning from Vietnam was different than the homecomings Soldiers experience today, Carpenter said.
"We had a draftee Army back then ... and I have been lucky enough to experience that and to have also experienced the Army National Guard that we have today," he said. The difference is night and day."
Over the next 35-years, Carpenter would move up through the ranks. An engineer officer for most of his career, he went on to hold various titles, eventually becoming the acting director of the Army National Guard.
During his tenure as the acting director of the Army National Guard, Carpenter made a focus on people his top priority.
"When I took over in May 2009, we had around 366,000 Soldiers in the Army National Guard," he said. "We then received guidance to cut that to about 362,000, and the real irony was that the previous five years were spent trying to increase our size."
Tweaking recruiting efforts in order to meet the new limit while not dipping below that figure was only one of several challenges Carpenter faced, and he faced his challenges head-on.
But focusing on people meant far more than just focusing on numbers. As the acting director, Carpenter faced increasing behavioral health and suicide numbers, with a 100-percent increase in suicides from 2009 to 2010.
"Another part of my people priority has always been resiliency and finding ways to decrease those (suicide) numbers and setting goals for ourselves," he said.
"It hasn't been easy, but we're taking steps in the right direction. There is a lot of great work going on in the states with this, from NCOs to officers and leaders who understand that you have to know the Soldiers in the formations and be aware of what may be going on with them."
Challenging at times, Carpenter said his position came with a huge amount of responsibility, "but there is a great team within the Army National Guard and they are the ones who are really responsible for where we are today."
For his future plans, Carpenter jokes that he is going to move in with his wife. He also plans to run the Army Ten-Miler and the Marine Corps Marathon next year. He hopes to stay engaged with the activities of the Army National Guard.