Gov. Paul LePage has convened an 11-member search committee to select the next adjutant general of the Maine National Guard.

LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said the governor’s goal is to have a permanent general in place by the fall.

Brig. Gen. Gerard Bolduc has been serving as acting adjutant general since March 24, the day LePage fired former Brig. Gen. James Campbell.

LePage appointed Campbell in August 2012, but the governor said he “lost faith” in Campbell’s ability to lead the Maine Guard, which includes Army and Air Force units.

The governor made his decision after reviewing nearly 200 pages of emails that had been requested by the Portland Press Herald under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Those emails revealed that Campbell initiated a plan to swap Maine’s storied 133rd Engineer Battalion for an out-of-state infantry unit, but did so outside of ongoing budget discussions at the federal level about Guard cuts nationwide. That did not match what Campbell was saying publicly – that his plan to move out engineers was being forced upon Maine by the Obama administration.

Campbell, in a lengthy interview after his firing, said he was shocked by the governor’s decision and insisted he was always upfront about his intentions.

Since the firing, Bolduc has been tasked with trying to undo the engineer-for-infantry swap that was set in motion by Campbell.

Bolduc and other senior Guard officials traveled to National Guard Bureau headquarters in Virginia last month. While nothing was decided, Bolduc said the Guard bureau pledged to work with Maine, even though some decisions may be out of the state’s hands. Campbell’s plan to transition some units had already received preliminary approval, according to federal officials.

Under the plan, Maine would create the 1st Battalion, 103rd Infantry Regiment, which would be made up of the 488th Military Police Company in Waterville; Bravo Company, the 172nd Mountain Infantry unit based in Brewer; and four companies of the 133rd – the 136th Engineer Company in Skowhegan and Lewiston, the 251st Engineer Company of Norway, and the Forward Support Company and Headquarters Company, both based in Augusta.

Maine also would lose three smaller units – a contract team, a public affairs department and a survey and design team.

Bolduc and LePage have said they will do everything they can to save as many Maine Guard jobs as possible and ensure that the 133rd Engineer Battalion stays put.

Bolduc may get the chance to make good on that pledge. He confirmed Tuesday that he has applied for the adjutant general position.

Other Guard officials ranked colonel or higher will also be eligible to apply.

The members of the search committee for a new general all have military ties.

They are Michael Cianchette, former chief legal counsel to LePage and a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve; John Morris, LePage’s public safety commissioner and a retired U.S. Navy captain; Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty, a retired command sergeant major in the Army; Rob McAleer, a retired Marine colonel and former director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency; retired Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Nichols; retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Stephen Atkinson; retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Frances Auclair; retired Army Brig. Gen. Robert Carmichael; retired Air Force Lt. Col. Terry Moore; retired Army Lt. Col. Gil Pelletier; and retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Steve Hughes.

In Maine, the adjutant general of the Maine National Guard also serves as commissioner of the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.

As with all Cabinet appointees, the nominee for general would need to be confirmed by the Maine Senate.


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