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Monday, February 27, 2012 - 11:55am

Lawmakers OK National Guard Change

Both the state House and Senate have passed a bill changing the career qualifications for the state's number two in command of the Georgia National Guard. The measure smooths over Gov. Nathan Deal’s recent appointment of Joe Jarrard to the position.

Current law states that the assistant adjutant general must have five years’ National Guard experience.

Jarrard, a retired lieutenant Army colonel, doesn’t fit those qualifications.

The bill would amend the rules to allow five years’ of continuous U.S. military service instead.

Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat, says the move smacks of politics.

“When we change the qualifications after the fact for someone who apparently is close to the Governor, when we do that we are politicizing the National Guard,” he said during Senate floor debate of the bill.

Some retired generals complained to lawmakers that the bill waters down the standards. But Sen. Butch Miller, a Gainesville Republican, disagrees.

“The assistant adjutant general would still be a federally recognized officer with the rank of lieutenant colonel or higher, with great qualifications,” he said.

The bill’s supporters say Jarrard is qualified for the post because he served in the Army for 20 years.

The bill now heads to Gov. Deal, who is expected to sign it.

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