BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis welcomed the 44th Adjutant General of Colorado, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Laura Clellan, during a socially-distanced assumption of command ceremony at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado, Aug. 22, 2020.
“It’s great to see us all gathered together in person, because there are two ways that this virus can defeat us,” Polis said. “One is, it defeats our health — requiring hospitalization and loss; the second is, it defeats our spirit. And we cannot let it defeat our spirit to save our health.”
Although COVID-19 protocol meant few were in attendance, thousands watched through various social media platforms, and the governor expressed the importance of in-person ceremonies while maintaining safety.
Polis made a comparison of Soldiers working in freezing temperatures, taking the necessary safety precautions, while the mission continues. The same is true, he said, of a pandemic: “we are bundled up in a different way and taking every precaution to maintain our health and our spirit.”
The governor thanked Colorado National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, family members, and the community for their work and support, as Clellan succeeded U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael A. Loh, who became director of the U.S. Air National Guard.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Loh to serve as the 13th director of the Air National Guard July 20.
“I appreciated General Loh’s support in deepening Colorado’s role in the flourishing space eco-system and in helping us expand our capacity to better serve our over 400,000 veterans,” Polis said. “While we are disappointed, of course, to lose him, we know our Department of Military and Veterans Affairs will be in terrific and capable hands with his successor. And I am thrilled that Brigadier General Laura Clellan is the next Adjutant General of Colorado.”
Clellan also serves as a member of the governor’s cabinet and as executive director for the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. She previously worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Veterans Affairs.
The DMVA consists of the CONG, Division of Veterans Affairs-East and -West, and the Colorado Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, totaling more than 6,700 Soldiers, Airmen, state employees, and volunteers. The DMVA supports the National Guard to defend the homeland and mobilize for overseas contingency operations, coordinates National Guard disaster response in Colorado and the region, supports the missions of the CAP, and assists our veterans and their families to receive the state and federal benefits that they deserve. The Department also supports local and global partnerships. The CONG has National Guard State Partnerships with Slovenia and Jordan and a strategic partnership with Israel’s Home Front Command.
Clellan commissioned in 1989 through the Reserve Officers Training Corps program at Rio Grande College in Ohio. She served in various assignments in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve before transferring to the Colorado Army National Guard in 1998.
She is a decorated commander with two combat deployments, three operational deployments, and 30 years of military service.
Over 22 years, Clellan served in positions of increasing responsibility within the COARNG, to include the Assistant Adjutant General, Army.
Polis said her experience and lifelong dedication make her the right person to serve in this position.
“She’s not just a results-oriented leader, she is a people-oriented leader, and her leadership capabilities and considerable military and civilian experience are going to make an enormous difference for all of Colorado,” Polis said. “I know she will work hard to ensure that our military members, our veterans, and their families thrive in the Centennial state.
“I’m also excited that Brigadier General Laura Clellan will be the first woman in our states’ history to hold The Adjutant General’s position — it’s about time, and while it shouldn’t have taken 150 years for this to happen, we are elated that a qualified woman will now occupy the position of The Adjutant General of the state of Colorado,” he added.
Polis said he was grateful to have Clellan as part of the team, stating that she is a “barrier breaker.” He added that many young people will look up to and be inspired by Clellan.
“It is a true honor for me to be standing here as the 44th adjutant general,” Clellan said, as she began her speech thanking Polis for his trust and confidence during these extraordinary times.
She expressed her gratitude to be back in the organization knowing the challenges ahead.
Organizing the COVID-19 and wildfire Colorado National Guard responses are just a few tasks that Clellan is facing in her new role.
“During all of these responses, we still have the men and women of the Colorado Army and Air Guard training for our warfight mission, while keeping our Soldiers and Airmen safe,” Clellan said. “And that’s no easy task …The innovation and the creativity of our leaders out there is something to be very proud of.”
There are hundreds of service members deployed overseas, Clellan noted, recognizing how difficult it is to be away from their families, especially during the pandemic. She also thanked the service members and their families for their support and sacrifice to the state and the nation.
Clellan expressed her excitement to work with Colorado’s state partnerships with Slovenia and Jordan. “To the Republic of Slovenia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan: I look forward to meeting you in person and working with you, but until then we are looking at holding virtual meet-and-greets and exchanges, so that we don’t lose touch with our extended family overseas.”
Clellan said she plans to continue Loh’s great work.
“I know I have big shoes to fill following General Loh … he pushed the organization to think boldly and I intend to do the same,” she said. “I’ll be specifically focused on people, our greatest asset. The U.S. Army has adopted a new motto. It warmed my heart to see this — ‘People First, Winning Matters.’ Taking care of our people has to come first. We can’t win at anything if we don’t do that.”
Clellan said “people” includes all service members, volunteers, state employees, families, and our veterans.
“Our readiness, our results, our partnership, and our credibility as an organization are all dependent on our ability to take care of our people and to take care of each other,” Clellan said. “And we do this by leveraging our diversity, by ensuring that we have a true inclusive culture, one where people are welcomed, they are valued, they are respected, and they are heard. And that culture has to permeate all facets of our organization.”
While living in an uncertain world, Clellan said the organization will continue to strengthen relationships and improve the team.
View the replay here: