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NEWS | Jan. 5, 2024

Legion Brigade welcomes first female commander

By Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Wood, Joint Forces Headquarters

Command of the largest brigade in the Kentucky National Guard changed hands during a ceremony at the armory in Richmond, Dec. 2, 2023.

During the event, Army Col. J.B. Richmond handed the reins of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade over to Col. Brandye Williams.

“I stand here a grateful man, and it’s humbling when I look at all the faces on the wall who have held this position in the past,” said Richmond.

Richmond spoke about his career as an engineer officer, which took place mostly in the ‘Legion Brigade,’ the selfless actions he witnessed of Guardsmen during the COVID-19 pandemic, state missions such as flood and tornado response, and the deployments that took place while he was in command.

“This is a busy organization, and I don’t see it letting up. But I know Brandye is up to the task,” said Richmond.

Williams has worked with maneuver enhancement brigades in some capacity since 2006.

She worked her way up from serving as a platoon leader in a chemical unit to her last assignment serving in Joint Plans Division for National Guard Bureau.

Williams said her robust leadership and staff experience gave her an understanding of how the 149th MEB works and how it can efficiently meet its national and international security requirements.

“Our MEBs are very unique because they align all of the maneuver support elements under one umbrella, and I have worked with MEBs since the idea was first coined,” said Williams. “I’m excited and so humbled that the adjutant general and state leadership allowed me to come back to Kentucky and command. It’s a dream come true.”

Williams is historically the first woman to command the 149th MEB and when asked to provide her thoughts on her accomplishment, she said she is “big” on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Sometimes you don’t see a lot of people who look like you while sitting at the table, so being the first female commander of the brigade is an honor,” said Williams. “I’m the first, but I don’t plan to be the last. I hope me taking this position opens that door for some wonderful leaders on the battalion level seeking this same opportunity in the future.”

Brig. Gen. Joseph Gardner II, a former Kentucky Army National Guard Chief of Staff and current 38th Infantry Division’s deputy commanding general for operations told the Guardsmen, former commanders, and family members in the room that the 149th, being the best MEB in the Army, is also a critical asset to his division if called to conduct large-scale combat operations.

Gardner spoke in length about his friendship and respect for Richmond, and how fortunate the 149th MEB is to have Williams as a commander.

“I don’t think you all realize how lucky you are to have such a high-caliber officer such as Brandye. She is smart, laser-focused, and carries an excellent perspective. She is definitely a one-percenter, a diamond in the rough, and a true Kentuckian who will do great things for us,” said Gardner.

A Facebook Live video recording of the change of command ceremony can be found at

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