AUGUSTA — In his first and last address to the Maine Legislature, Adjutant Gen. John Libby on Wednesday declared the state of the Maine National Guard to be good despite a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“As I tell our World War II veterans, they are the greatest generation but this nation is currently being served by another great generation who are 100 percent volunteer for the first time in our modern history and have fought in two simultaneous wars,” Libby told lawmakers in a House-Senate session.

A bill passed last session authorizes legislative leaders to invite the adjutant general to appear annually and address a joint session. The address to lawmakers was also the last for Libby, who’s submitted his resignation effective March 16.

Libby heads the Maine National Guard and is commissioner of the state Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.

“Let me report to you that the state of the Maine National Guard is good,” Libby said Wednesday.

Congress has been generous in its support of the Guard, the support of governors he’s served under has been magnificent, and legislative support has been exceptional, he said.

Libby said the future role of the National Guard “is being determined as we speak” by Congress, following directed budget cuts that will slash hundreds of billions of dollars from defense programs during the next several years.

Libby, who has overseen the mobilization and deployment of 3,300 members of the Maine Army and Air Guard to Iraq and Afghanistan, described the troops he leads as a rare breed.

“We are the 1 percent,” he said. Seventy percent of American youths are disqualified from serving in the military, and 97 percent of those who are qualified choose not to serve.

“Overall, more than 99 percent of Americans will never serve,” Libby said.

The general said 51 people from Maine serving in active duty since the 9/11 attacks have died. Among them are eight Guard members, whose names he read and whose dog tags hang in a memorial in the State House.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.