Gainesville native Joe Jarrard is Georgia's new deputy adjutant general.
Gov. Nathan Deal named the retired lieutenant colonel to the post Friday, lauding Jarrard for his "long and distinguished history of service to the country," including two active tours of duty in Iraq and 25 months of civilian service in Afghanistan.
"With his proven leadership skills and knowledge of military forces overseas, I am confident he will lead Georgia's Army National Guard in the right direction while always keeping the security of our homeland priority No. 1."
The deputy adjutant general is responsible for directing, coordinating, organizing and stationing the Georgia Army National Guard to ensure readiness to perform state and national missions.
The Georgia Army National Guard makes up more than 75 percent of the Georgia National Guard. Jarrard will serve under the command of incoming Adjutant Gen. Jim Butterworth.
"I look forward to seeing the positive impact he makes on the critical mission of preparing our Guardsmen for both wartime and domestic service," Butterworth said.
Jarrard returned Tuesday from Afghanistan, where he was part of the Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team, formerly under the command of Gen. David Petraeus.
The team works directly for the commander of International Assistance Forces Afghanistan advising and assisting commanders at all levels on counterinsurgency operations.
Jarrard graduated from North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1988. He served on active duty for more than 20 years and retired a lieutenant colonel in April 2009.
In 2003, he deployed as the battalion executive officer of 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He returned to Iraq two years later as the deputy brigade commander of the 18th Field Artillery Brigade (Airborne) in support of the 101st Air Assault Division. Jarrard's awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal.
Deal's appointment "came out of nowhere," Jarrard said. "But I'm very honored and looking forward to the challenge. I've basically been a soldier most of my life, so it's good to be back in that business."
Jarrard takes command Sept. 30. An official ceremony will be held at a later date.
His brother, Kevin, who is commandant of cadets at Riverside Military Academy and a Marine with several tours of duty in Afghanistan, said he is proud of Joe.
"He has served our nation well," he said. "This is just a continuation of his life of service. He started out in the Georgia National Guard ... more than a few years ago, so I think it's a great way to continue his service in the Guard."
His new boss also is a Northeast Georgia resident with Hall County ties.
A U.S. Air Force veteran who flew B-1 bombers with the Georgia Air National Guard, Butterworth was a state senator at the time of his appointment and would have represented a small area of East Hall. He lives in Clarkesville.