Military Connection: Maine’s Gov. Fires Guard General

maine

By Debbie Gregory.

Maine National Guard Adjutant Gen. James D. Campbell has been relieved of duty by Gov. Paul LePage, after just under three years of service.

“Based on an internal review of Gen. Campbell, I have lost faith in his ability to lead Maine’s soldiers and airmen who serve so proudly in the National Guard,” LePage wrote in a statement. “Effectively immediately, I have relieved him of his command.”

Campbell and his chief of staff, Col. Jack Mosher, were planning to swap the 133rd Engineer Battalion for an out-of-state infantry unit. Gov. LePage appeared to be caught off guard by the news, but assured Campbell that everything was fine. Campbell was fired minutes before he was scheduled to deliver his annual State of the Guard address to a joint session of the Legislature.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, 200 pages of emails and documents were released that portrayed Campbell as being secretive and controlling about how the swap would be approached. He was consumed with the idea of returning the engineer battalion to its historic infantry roots, and at times, critical of engineers.

Campbell submitted a formal request to the National Guard Bureau dated Dec. 30, 2013. Maine would swap out the entire 133rd Battalion, which is made up of six individual companies, and roughly 570 soldiers, and in return would create an infantry unit consisting of three rifle companies, a weapons company, and a headquarters company – provided another state agreed to partner. Although the request acknowledged possible troop reductions, it was clearly made outside any discussion of budget cuts at the federal level. Adjutant generals – the title for top Guard officials in each state – often engage each other about personnel swaps. When those swaps are a “zero sum game,” the National Guard Bureau can do them outside major force restructuring conversations and often meet little resistance.

In his request, Campbell wrote that he wanted to transition Maine engineers to reconstitute the historic 1st Battalion, 103 Infantry Regiment, which was the original identity of the 133rd.

The infantry dates back to the Civil war, and was led by Gen. Joshua Chamberlain in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Campbell received written approval from LT. Gen. William Ingram, then director of the Army National Guard, to explore a swap. It allowed Campbell to begin engaging with other states to discuss a swap, but Mosher and Campbell worried about news getting out. In a chain of emails, they agreed to keep the swap quiet and only speak with a small circle of people.

With interest from New Mexico, Campbell tried to make his move. Without regard for the concern about losing the highly skilled engineers, who are able to help with natural disasters, Campbell slammed them, saying the companies were “marginally deployable,” and “difficult to train and recruit for,” and added, “Engineers aren’t smarter than infantrymen,” to Mosher.

After the leak, Guard sources said that an engineer-for-infantry swap involving Maine was included in the National Guard Bureau’s overall force structure plan.

Campbell did speak to the Bangor Daily News on February 4th of this year, and confirmed that the 133rd Engineer Battalion would transition to the 1st Battalion, 103rd Infantry Regiment. He also continued to maintain that he was fighting the transition.

LePage said those emails brought him to the conclusion that his adjutant general was not forthright with him, causing him to lose faith in Campbell’s ability to lead the Guard.

Campbell said he was surprised that LePage fired him because he felt like he was upfront. In an interview, he said he had nothing to hide.

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Military Connection: Maine’s Gov. Fires Guard General: By Debbie Gregory