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Maryland National Guard Change of Command Ceremony

By 1st Lt. Paul Jeong

BALTIMORE, Md. – Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, commander in chief of the Maryland Military Department, hosted the change of command ceremony for the new adjutant general for Maryland.

Maj. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, the 30th adjutant general for Maryland, relinquished command of the Maryland National Guard and the Maryland Military Department to Maj. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead at a change of command ceremony held at the Fifth Regiment Armory, Saturday, June 3, 2023.

As part of the ceremony, Gowen, as the outgoing commander, received the colors from the Maryland Army National Guard’s senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. David Harry. Gowen passed the organization’s colors to Gov. Moore, who then passed the colors to the 31st adjutant general, Birckhead. The colors were then returned to Harry, who then returned them to the color guard, signifying the conclusion of the transition.

“Over the past three and a half years under the skilled and visionary leadership of Maj. Gen. Gowen, the Maryland National Guard has risen to even greater heights,” said Gov. Moore. “I have every confidence that Maj. Gen. Birckhead will lead you with great distinction and integrity and that she will work tirelessly to ensure that Maryland’s National Guard remains one of America’s very best military organizations.”

Birckhead, who was promoted from the rank of brigadier general earlier in the day at a ceremony held at Morgan State University, previously served as the assistant adjutant general-Army since May 2018. She now leads the daily operations of the Maryland Military Department, which includes the Maryland Army National Guard, Maryland Air National Guard and Maryland Defense Force.

“I do not take this charge lightly. I will use the breadth and depth of my experience to do the best for you to ensure readiness.” said Birckhead. “I will remember my commitment to not only the Soldiers and Airmen but also the civilians who are a part of the Maryland Military Department.”

The adjutant general is a member of the governor’s cabinet and is responsible for the readiness, administration, and training of more than 7,000 members of the Military Department, generating nearly $300 million annually for Maryland’s economy.

Additionally, two assumption of command ceremonies took place at the Fifth Regiment Armory for the assistant adjutants general. Maryland Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Drew E. Dougherty assumed command from retired Brig. Gen. Edward S. Jones, and Maryland Army National Guard Col. Andrew W. Collins assumed command from Birckhead.

“I stand humbled, determined, proud, and ready,” said Collins. “[The Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers] always have and always will be my number one priority.”

In his address, Dougherty emphasized his dedication to continuous improvement of an already excellent organization.

“I commit to leaving this organization better than before,” he said, underscoring his determination to take care of service members and ensure the continued success of the organization’s cyber operations and future flying mission.

Before the end of the ceremony, the Maryland Military Department conducted a Pass in Review with Soldiers, Airmen, and Maryland Defense Force volunteers. The Pass in Review is a long-standing military tradition where the newly assigned commander is able to inspect the troops through a display of drill and ceremony.

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