By Sgt. Nathaniel Free
Public Affairs Office
On Oct. 17, 2019, the Honorable Gary R. Herbert, Governor of Utah, announced the selection of Brig. Gen. Michael J. Turley to serve as the next adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, to succeed retired Maj. Gen. Jefferson S. Burton, effective Nov. 7, 2019.
“When you look back on the great track record of General Burton, he leaves some very big boots to fill,” Herbert said. “The good news for all of us is we have such an individual ready to step into those boots. I look forward to working with General Turley. During his 34 years of service in the military, he has consistently demonstrated the skills and character to lead the next generation of the Utah National Guard.”
At the change of command ceremony, service members, their families, and members of the congressional delegation witnessed the time-honored tradition of the passing of the colors, the symbolic transfer of command from the outgoing commander to a new commander. The ceremony was overseen by Herbert as commander in chief of the UTNG. As senior NCO of the organization in charge of maintenance and care of the colors, Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Anderson passed the colors to the outgoing commander, Burton, signifying appreciation for his leadership and his guidance. Burton then passed the colors to Herbert, signifying the relinquishing of his command and gratitude for the opportunity to lead the Soldiers and Airmen of the UTNG. Finally, Herbert passed the colors to the incoming commander, Turley, entrusting him with the responsibility and care of the Soldiers and Airmen of the UTNG.
“Military service is fueled by many sources, but love is the most potent,” Turley said, in thanking Burton for his service. “Love is one of the longest-lasting resources. We have felt your love—all of us—and hopefully you have felt ours.”
Turley went on to talk about his concerns and priorities as the incoming commander of the UTNG by outlining the two-fold mission of the Guard.
“We see a resurgence of a global power competition with two competitors who sometimes work in consort and sometimes do not. Russia and China both field large, modern and lethal military forces. They have upgraded their arsenals in the past few years in dramatically daunting ways. Furthermore, they are attempting to change the world order, and not to our benefit. Therefore, we must be prepared to deter our enemies and, if required, to defend our homeland and defeat our enemies at a moment’s notice. This is our federal mission, a mission we must succeed at. We also must modernize our force structure for any future event. China and Russia have been busy and we had better get busy too. We must pivot our thinking and our training towards the global power competition in defense of the homeland,” said Turley.
“We also live in a state that, due to its own success, its great culture and its gorgeous environment, has grown exponentially. Because of this growth, we have a larger exposure to the effects of natural disasters that may impact our fellow citizens. We must be prepared to provide support to our civilian partner agencies in a whole-government approach in the response of unlikely natural disaster. This differentiates the Guard from all of our other services and is our sacred duty. I see both mission sets as no-fail missions, therefore we must recruit the best people to represent our State. This must be an emphasis. Again, what sets the guard apart from our fellow services is our connection to the state and our fellow citizens. We are the people.”
As a gesture of best-wishes and thanks, Charn Burton, wife of Maj. Gen. Jefferson S. Burton was presented with a bouquet of red roses from the members and families of the UTNG, for her tremendous support.
Mary Turley, wife of Brig. Gen. Michael J. Turley, was presented with a bouquet of yellow roses from the members and families of the UTNG, symbolizing her arrival and thanking her for her continued support.
“It’s an honor to follow a Soldier like General Burton,” said Turley. “The sacrifice and service he provided over the years are directly in line with all the soldierly values we cherish, like courage, commitment, and character. He has been my mentor and exemplar for over 20 years. It’s sad to see him go, but he left an indelible mark on the UTNG, his influence will always be part of our history.”
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