Collins named National Guard leader

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — Gov. Phil Bryant has appointed retired Brig. Gen. Augustus L. “Leon” Collins as adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard.

Collins will assume duties upon the retirement of William L. Freeman Jr., who served as adjutant general for four years and is retiring after serving the Mississippi Army National Guard for nearly 46 years.

Collins will be commanding officer of the Mississippi Military Department and the more than 12,500 men and women who serve in the Mississippi Army National Guard and the Mississippi Air National Guard.

Bryant made the announcement Wednesday. The appointment requires Senate confirmation.

“”Brigadier General Collins has demonstrated great leadership both in his military career and in his work with young adults. The men and women of our National Guard support our state during times of emergency and defend our nation during times of war, so it’s crucial that our commanding officer be someone of great character,” Bryant said in a statement.

Collins said: “We will build on the momentum that has been generated by Major General Freeman and others before him as we provide disaster assistance to the citizens of this state and war fighters to contingency operations around the world.”

Collins, a native of Booneville, was first commissioned an officer in 1980.

He served on active duty in Operation Desert Shield/Storm and served as commander of the 155th Separate Armored Brigade in Iraq as a colonel. He was promoted to brigadier general in 2005, the first black general in the Mississippi Army National Guard.

In 2006, Collins was appointed director of mobilization forces of the U.S. Army Forces Command. He retired in 2010.

The Mississippi Army National Guard and the Mississippi Air National Guard operate Readiness Centers in 71 counties and command five military installations in the state. Nearly 95 percent of Mississippi’s military troops have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Mississippi’s National Guard troops have responded to multiple disasters and emergencies in the state and most recently aided survivors of major flooding, tornadoes and severe storms that struck in 2011.