Colorado National Guard, Air Force Academy Losing Senior Commanders

  • Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards (National Guard photo)
    Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards (National Guard photo)
  • Brig. Gen. Stephen C. Williams (U.S. Air Force photo)
    Brig. Gen. Stephen C. Williams (U.S. Air Force photo)

The head of the Colorado National Guard is heading for retirement and the Air Force Academy's commandant of cadets is heading for a top operations job at U.S. Pacific Command.

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the retirement of Guard boss Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards effective March 31, when Edwards hits the mandatory retirement age for the force.

"It's truly been a privilege to serve the dedicated citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen in the Colorado National Guard," Edwards said on Facebook. "My wife Laury and I also want to express our sincere appreciation for the wonderful opportunity to assist the people of the great state of Colorado."

Edwards, atop the Colorado Guard since 2007, has been an advocate for the part-time troops, openly taking on Army brass in 2015 during a funding spat.

He has also led the Guard during a time of growth, with armories built around the state, including a facility in Colorado Springs near the Air Force Academy.

"For the last 43 years, our entire nation has benefited from the distinguished and noble service of Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards," Hickenlooper said in a statement. "Coloradans will long remember him as one of the most accomplished adjutants general in our state's history. Veterans across our state will long benefit from his tireless efforts to serve those who have served. General Edwards represents the best of the National Guard and our military, and we are forever grateful for his service to Colorado and our country."

At the Air Force Academy, the school's commandant, Brig. Gen. Stephen C. Williams, is heading to a new post as the air and cyberspace operations boss at Pacific Command, the Pentagon announced.

Williams, on the job since 2014, oversees the military training of the academy's 4,000 cadets. During his tenure, he revamped basic cadet training and other military training in the cadet wing to involve more senior cadets. He has also pushed to increase diversity in the cadet wing.

The F-16 pilot will take over operations in a critical region for the U.S., where commanders are facing a Chinese push to assert its authority over the South China Sea and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is threatening America and other nations with an aggressive ballistic missile development program.

A date for Williams' departure hasn't been announced.

The new commandant will be selected by the Pentagon, and the new Guard boss will be picked by Hickenlooper.

"A search for Edwards' replacement is underway in the governor's office," Hickenlooper's office said in a news release. "By Colorado statute, only current commissioned officers of the Colorado National Guard, who hold a minimum rank of lieutenant colonel for at least one year prior to appointment, and who have served in the Colorado National Guard for at least five years with no less than 10 years of military service, are eligible to apply."

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