The Arizona National Guard has a new major general. Brigadier General Kerry Muehlenbeck was promoted to major general in a ceremony on Sunday.
She is the first woman in Arizona National Guard history to fill the role.
“I think it’s an honor to be a leader. The female part is just a bonus I suppose,” said Muehlenbeck. "There were other women who fought battles that I didn’t have to fight literally and figuratively and so I think, much like I talked about today we all stand on the shoulders of other people that have come before us that paved the way so I’m very honored and humbled to be selected as the leader."
"Honored & humbled": those are the words of Major General Kerry L. Muehlenbeck, new top leader of the AZ National Guard & first ever female to fill the role. I spoke one-on-one w/ her at her promotion ceremony today. Story airs this evening on #ABC15 at 5 p.m. pic.twitter.com/9LJ1y4QWwo— Jamie Warren (@JamieABC15) June 6, 2021
Muehlenbeck replaces Major General Michael McGuire, who announced he was retiring in March. McGuire was one of the faces of Arizona's pandemic response, seen at the microphone with Governor Doug Ducey during his COVID-19 briefings.
When asked about the biggest challenge the guard will face in the coming year, Muehlenbeck says it starts with recruitment and Arizona's growing population.
“I think the composition of the National Guard should grow commensurate with the increase in population so certainly our ability to recruit and to staff our positions here," she said. "The bigger piece is, we're coming off a very high ops tempo for the National Guard, so we've done the COVID mission, we're still doing it. We did support the law enforcement for the civil disturbance mission. We now are participating in the southern Arizona law enforcement mission."
Muehlenbeck has had a long career both within and outside of the military. She says she hopes that has prepared her for this latest leadership role.
“We prepare as if we’re next, but we never know if we are and I got to tell you you've got so many qualified people here at the senior level. Any one of them could’ve stepped into my shoes, it’s just the governor tapped my shoulder this time," she said.