The state and nation have relied heavily on the Massachusetts National Guard, from continuing deployments abroad to activations during Hurricane Sandy and other disasters. That is enough tumult for any organization, but a leadership vacuum and a decision to shift headquarters made 2012 a trying year. The Guard’s permanent relocation to a new facility at Hanscom Air Force Base, along with the appointment of a permanent leader, marks a fresh start for 2013.
Former adjutant general Joe Carter resigned when a decades-old allegation of sexual misconduct resurfaced. The position has now gone to the acting head, L. Scott Rice. Rice provides not only the sense of judgment accruing from a lifelong commitment to the Guard, but also a wry sense of humor.
At the same time, the Guard has finished its move to Hanscom, a cost-saving effort that places the Guard within strategic reach of federal military assets here in Massachusetts. It is the kind of integration that the Pentagon should be looking for as it tries to respond to the need for budget cuts. The Guard’s previous home was in an office complex in Milford, hardly a strategic location.
The Guard was founded 376 years ago. In the wake of repeated deployments and domestic emergencies, the challenges facing the modern descendant of the Massachusetts Bay Colonial Militia will only multiply. But at least its leadership and location are finally settled.