January 11, 2012 In News
Collins succeeds Major General William L. Freeman Jr. as the commanding officer of the Mississippi Military Department and the more than 12,500 men and women who serve in the Mississippi Army National Guard and the Mississippi Air National Guard.
“I am so pleased to appoint Brigadier General Collins to this position,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “The men and women of our National Guard support our state during times of emergency and defend our nation during times of war, so it’s crucial that our commanding officer be someone of great character.”
“Brigadier General Collins has demonstrated great leadership both in his military career and in his work with young adults, and I am confident that he will guide Mississippi’s armed forces with great integrity,” Bryant said.
Collins has held numerous staff and command positions during his military career and commanded the 155th Brigade Combat Team of the Mississippi National Guard during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. That mobilization was Mississippi’s largest since World War II.
“I thank Governor Bryant for the confidence he is displaying in me by this appointment,” Brig. Gen. Collins said. “I am looking forward to working for and with the great soldiers and airmen of the Mississippi National Guard. We will build on the momentum that has been generated by Major General Freeman and others before him as we provide disaster assistance to the citizens of this state and war fighters to contingency operations around the world.”
Collins has earned numerous awards and decorations, and his dedicated service has gained him the respect of his superiors and peers, including that of former First U.S. Army Commander Lieutenant General Russel Honoré.
“Brigadier General Leon Collins is one of the best General officers I worked with during my 37 years in the Army,” Lieutenant General Russel Honoré said. “Leon is intelligent, articulate, a super communicator, and sees the big picture. He acts with initiative to accomplish the mission.”
Collins will assume duties upon the retirement of Freeman, who served as The Adjutant General of Mississippi for four years and is retiring after serving the Mississippi Army National Guard for nearly 46 years.
“The soldiers and airmen of the Mississippi National Guard are some of the best trained war fighters in our nation today,” Maj. Gen. Freeman said. “Since 2003, they have all made personal sacrifices while involved in military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. The best four years of my military career have been leading these brave men and women as they serve to protect our freedoms.”
The Mississippi Army National Guard and the Mississippi Air National Guard operate Readiness Centers in 71 counties and command five military installations in the state. Nearly 95 percent of Mississippi’s military troops have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Mississippi’s National Guard troops have responded to multiple disasters and emergencies in the state and most recently aided survivors of major flooding, tornadoes and severe storms that struck in 2011.