Air Force colonel nominated to lead Maine National Guard

By MATT BYRNE | Portland Press Herald, Maine (Tribune News Service) | Published: December 30, 2015

Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday nominated Maine Air National Guard Col. Douglas A. Farnham to become the next adjutant general of the Maine National Guard.

The announcement came less than a week after Brig. Gen. Gerard Bolduc, who was serving as an interim leader of the Guard, withdrew his name 24 hours after his nomination was announced.

For the past three years, Farnham has been the wing commander of the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor.

The adjutant general is the supreme military officer of the state and concurrently serves as commissioner of defense, veterans and emergency management.

“The next Adjutant General will serve at an important time for Maine airmen and soldiers,” Farnham said in a statement. “Shrinking national resources are putting intense pressure on future Department of Defense budgets. As we’ve seen, the entire relationship between the active duty force structure and the reserve components is and will continue to be under debate. Our adjutant general needs to be engaged at the national level to ensure Maine is part of the discussion on emerging missions and force structure.”

He declined to be interviewed until his Senate confirmation is finalized in mid-January, and LePage’s office offered little elaboration on Farnham’s selection, other than listing basic resume information about his career.

Farnham graduated from Brewer High School and the Air Force Academy, having served in the military for the last 31 years as a pilot, flight instructor and commanding officer. He also holds an MBA from Chapman University, and is the fourth-generation owner of Getchell Bros. Inc., a family-owned ice packaging company.

It is still unknown why Bolduc withdrew his nomination Dec. 23, only a day after he was named by the governor as the nominee. Bolduc has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

The governor’s office declined to elaborate on Bolduc’s decision this week, but did say that Farnham was on the short list of candidates recommended to the governor by an 11-person advisory committee.

The committee convened in May to find a permanent replacement for Brig. Gen. James Campbell, who was fired by LePage in March. Campbell’s sudden departure came shortly after the LePage administration read more than 200 pages of emails turned over to the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram in a Freedom of Information Act request.

Those emails detailed how Campbell privately initiated a plan to swap Maine’s celebrated 133rd Engineer Battalion with a unit of infantry soldiers, a side deal made outside the larger federal budget process that would ultimately reduce the size of the National Guard.

Publicly, however, Campbell blamed the swap on the Obama administration and the overarching force reduction, saying that swapping units was the best way to save jobs in Maine. LePage fired Campbell on March 24, saying he had “lost faith” in Campbell’s ability to lead.

Engineer units are sought after by state governments because engineers, with their access to heavy machinery and expertise in construction and earth moving, are equipped to respond to natural disasters and other civil emergencies. The units also provide exceptional opportunities for women and job training in construction skills that apply outside of the military.

Since Campbell’s ouster, LePage and members of the Maine congressional delegation have vowed to keep the 133rd in the state.


©2015 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)

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