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NEWS | Aug. 8, 2023

Guardsman assumes command, embarking on new active-duty leadership role

By Milt Spalding, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

History was made when Kentucky Army National Guard’s Maj. Gen. Bryan Howay took command of the active component’s First Army Division East at a ceremony held at Fort Knox, June 14.

Prior to the change of command and change of responsibilities dual ceremony, Howay has been serving as acting commander of Division East since February 2023 while dual-hatted as the KYNG's director of the joint staff. 

“I thank my lucky stars that I'm in this position. I don't take it lightly. I realize how fortunate I am,” said the major general, who was promoted by his family in front of his close friends and colleagues, including the adjutant general, just prior to the event.

“Even though I am blessed and fortunate, it's still the product of a lot of hard work,” he said. “This isn't something that just fell in my lap; I worked hard for quite some time to get here.”

Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, said Howay, with his experience, will be a valuable asset for the First Army Division East as he congratulated him and his family.
“We are exceptionally proud of Bryan for being selected for this two-star, command position within First Army,” Jensen said. “The depth of his National Guard and Army experience will prove valuable to First Army and the reserve component units Bryan will prepare and ultimately mobilize. This serves as another great example of how integrated the Army National Guard is within the Total Army. Our congratulations and appreciation also extend to Bryan’s wife, Sharon, and family for supporting our Army National Guard and Bryan.”
Kentucky’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Haldane B. Lamberton, echoed many of Jensen’s sentiment and says that the Kentucky National Guard community is proud of Howay and his achievements. 

“Maj. Gen. Howay is the only National Guard general officer who currently serves in a regular Army [active duty] billet,” Lamberton said. “In doing so, he was personally selected by the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army.”

As a 35-year veteran of the Kentucky Army National Guard, Howay is enjoying his new position.

“I'm having the time of my life right now,” Howay said. “This is such a great job and is rewarding every day. I'm making a difference in the total Army. It's a joy to come to work, and honestly, I don't want it to end.”

While he is enjoying the new role, Howay is embracing its challenges which brought new responsibilities, opportunities, and a sense of fulfillment and excitement. The chance to grow and contribute in different ways, he claims, has been rewarding and inspires him to push his boundaries.

“I have had a steep learning curve on active-duty manning cycles,” he said. "I've also had to do a whole lot of catch up on learning how we manage, obligate and distribute the budget. This part has been a big challenge.”

He credits his team for helping him through the process. He says that their dedication and professionalism has made it easier.

Despite the challenges, Howay says that the transition has been smooth. The support and encouragement from colleagues played a significant role in easing his journey, making him feel welcomed and valued in his new role.

“So far, it's been great,” Howay said. “I don't think many people that I've dealt with know or care that I've been a Guardsman for 35 years. I've been treated the same as everyone else and it's not a topic of discussion. We just do business like we've always done business, and it's not an issue.”

Activated in 1918, the geographically dispersed division, comprises more than 3,700 Active Duty, U.S. Army Reserve, and Army National Guard Soldiers along with DA Civilians. Each of its five brigades serve a vital role in its overall mission to ensure readiness, preparedness, and mission success for mobilizing units.

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