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Guard generals welcomed at Fort Sill

Two new Army National Guard deputy commanding generals, one for the Field Artillery branch and the other for Air Defense Artillery, were welcomed to the fold at a Fort Sill ceremony on Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, commanding general of Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence, said the welcome ceremony is a little late, as both Brig. Gen. Russell and Brig. Gen. Frank M. Rice have been on the job for some time.

Johnson, who will provide input on all things field artillery-related in the Guard, is a native of Fargo, N.D. He earned a degree in agricultural mechanization from North Dakota State University in 1987, when he was also commissioned as an engineer officer. He holds a master of science degree in agricultural and biological engineering from the University of Idaho and a master of strategic studies degree from the U.S. Army War College.

Johnson began his military career as an enlisted member of the U.S. Marine Corps where he served as a fuel and electrical systems technician on ground combat vehicles.

Johnson has served with the Minnesota, North Dakota and Idaho Army National Guard. He has deployed twice to Iraq, the first tour in 2004-2005 as commander of 1st Battalion, 148th Field Artillery, 116th Cavalry Brigade, under the command of the 42nd Infantry Division. In 2010-2011 he returned there to command the 1-148 FA Rear Area Operations Center for U.S. Forces, Iraq. It was assigned to the International Zone, otherwise known as the Green Zone, in Baghdad.

Currently, Johnson is dual-hatted as the deputy commanding general here and as the land component commander for the Idaho National Guard. Shoffner also welcomed Johnson's wife, Lori. The Johnsons live in Nampa, Idaho.

Shoffner praised Johnson's successful leadership of a task force that went from Fort Sill to Europe for the new Dynamic Front exercise, "which is becoming the premier multi-national fires exercise that we do in the world." The task force set up a Theater Surface Fires Command at three-star level, which Shoffner said is something that had never been done before.

In his turn at the podium, Johnson said it was an honor to serve here and expressed his appreciation for a smooth transition. He added that he and Lori look forward to contributing to the great mission here.

Rice is a native of South Carolina.  He earned his bachelor's degree in science from Clemson University. Upon graduating from Palmetto Military Academy in 1987 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the South Carolina Army National Guard. He also holds a master of military science degree from the U.S. Army War College.

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