Major General Randall Simmons, former commander of the Georgia Army National Guard, retired during a ceremony at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga. on March 25, 2023. The ceremony served as a homecoming for Simmons who entered military service with the Georgia National Guard unit in Statesboro and later earned his bachelor’s degree at GSU.
Enlisting in 1989 as a private in the Statesboro-based 2nd Battalion, 214th Field Artillery, Simmons subsequently earned his commission from the Georgia Military Institute’s Officer Candidate School. From 1992, to 2006, Simmons served in a variety of assignments with the Savannah-based 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery Regiment, a unit whose history predates the American Revolution. Simmons deployed to Iraq in 2005 as the executive officer of the 1-118th. He commanded the Calhoun-based 1st Squadron 108th Cavalry Regiment in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010 and commanded the Macon-based 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from 2013 to 2015, during which time he served as commander of Task Force Volunteer in Kabul. Simmons served as the chief of staff for the Ga. ARNG from 2015 until his appointment as commanding general of the Ga. ARNG in 2017.
Simmons’ service as commander of the Georgia Army National Guard spanned three years during which the organization grew in strength and capability, adding nearly 300 personnel and activating new units such as the 1st Battalion, 54th Security Forces Assistance Brigade and 265th Chemical Battalion. Over the same period, the Georgia Army National Guard met unprecedented demand for overseas service and support to domestic operations. Nearly 3,000 Soldiers representing the Georgia Army National Guard’s five brigades were deployed to all six regional combatant commands. In addition, the Georgia Army National Guard conducted several notable overseas training missions in the country of Georgia, Romania, Germany and other locations.
In the first month of Simmons’ command, the Georgia Army National Guard was called to respond to Georgia counties impacted by Hurricane Irma, The following October, more than 900 Soldiers from 38 units across the state mobilized in response to Hurricane Michael.
The COVID-19 crisis which erupted in 2020 prompted an unprecedented domestic response by the Georgia Army National Guard. Georgia Guardsmen developed unique response capabilities including medical support teams that assisted regional hospitals and infection control teams that embarked to long term care facilities across the state to provide life-saving preventative actions for at-risk populations. While still responding to COVID-19 the Georgia National Guard was called to support law enforcement agencies in Atlanta and area communities following civil unrest. Simmons led the Georgia National Guard’s Joint Task Force for both missions through the remainder of his term as commander.
In the final months of Simmons’ command, Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, Director of the Army National Guard presented Georgia with the 2020 Director’s Award for Excellence. The award recognized the quality of service rendered by more than 11,000 Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers for their efforts in the previous year.
Relinquishing command of the Georgia Army National Guard in October 2020, Simmons assumed command of Joint Task Force North based at Fort Bliss, Texas. Comprised of active, Reserve and Guard Soldiers, Joint Task Force North renders support to law enforcement agencies in identifying and eliminating threats from transnational criminal organizations. In December 2022, Simmons relinquished command of the joint task force to Maj. Gen. Matthew Smith who, like Simmons, was a previous commander of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
During the ceremony, Major General Thomas Carden, Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard presented Simmons with the Oglethorpe Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of his 33 years of military service. Simmons wife Yetive Simmons was presented with the Georgia Commendation Medal for her exceptional support to the Georgia National Guard and U.S. Army. The Simmons’ Children, Callie and Luke were also recognized during the ceremony for their dedication and support.
In his farewell remarks, Simmons expressed appreciation to his family, Maj. Gen. Carden, and the service members of the Ga. ARNG and Joint Task Force North with whom he had served for more than three decades.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this Army of ours, this great military of ours and to serve this country,” said Simmons. “It has indeed been the greatest professional honor and privilege of my life.”