Camp Smith-based 53rd Troop Command gets new commander Saturday, Sept. 7

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Brig. Gen. Jack James being promoted on July 20, 2019. James has been named commander of the 53rd Troop Command.

CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y. (09/06/2019) (readMedia)-- The 53rd Troop Command, one of two New York Army National Guard's general officer commands, will get a new commander during a formal change-of-command ceremony at Camp Smith Training Site in Cortlandt Manor on Saturday, Sept. 7.

Brig Gen. Jack James will replace Brig. Gen. Michel Natali as the commander of 4,000 National Guard Soldiers who drill at armories across the state, from Long Island to Buffalo. Natali is moving into a new position as head of the New York Army National Guard.

Members of the press are invited to cover the ceremony.

WHO: Brig. Gen. Jack A. James, the incoming commander; Brig. Gen. Michel A. Natali, the outgoing commander; Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York and the presiding officer; leaders of the 53rd Troop Command from around the state.

WHAT: A traditional change-of-command ceremony in which the colors, or flag, of the 53rd Troops Command will be transferred from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander. Traditionally the unit colors indicate the commander's location on the battlefield. The traditional military ceremony allows the Soldiers to see who they will follow in battle.

The event will take place at the Camp Smith Parade Field and leaders from the 53rd Troop Command elements from across the state will be present with their colors for the event.

WHEN: 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019

WHERE: Camp Smith Training Site, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.

Media interested in covering the event must contact Sgt. Jonathan Pietrantoni at 516-655-1336 for access to this secure military facility.


53rd Troop Command

The 53rd Troop Command, which is headquartered at Camp Smith Training Site and headed by a one star general, is one of two general officer commands in the 10,000-member New York Army National Guard. The other is the 42nd Infantry Division based in Troy, N.Y.

There are more than 4,000 New York Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 53rd Troop Command based in armories across New York. Units of the 53rd Troop Command include transportation companies, signal units, logistics elements, training units and combat engineers.

During snowstorms, hurricanes, and other weather emergencies the 53rd Troop Command is responsible for overseeing New York National Guard operations in the Hudson Valley.

Brig. Gen. Jack A. James

New York Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Col. Jack James received his one-star rank as a general officer during a promotion ceremony held July 20, 2019 at the Joint Force Headquarters in Latham, N.Y.

James, a resident of Palm Harbor, Florida, led the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade from 2014- 2019.

James graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1992. He attended the Aviation Officer Basic Course and flight school at Fort Rucker, Ala. where he qualified in the AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter.

During active duty service, James served in key leadership and operational assignments at company and battalion or squadron level, including Camp Stanley, Korea; Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii and Fort Carson, Colo.

James deployed to Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy in 1995 and to Bosnia-Herzegovina as Commander of R Troop of the 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 2000.

James joined the New York Army National Guard in 2002.

He served as operations and intelligence officer for the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion; executive officer of the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Assault Aviation Regiment and brigade operations officer for the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade.

James served as operations officer for New York's aviation response to Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, coordinating an aviation task force that grew to 28 aircraft and 500 Soldiers from four states, providing hurricane relief for the Gulf Coast region.

In 2011 James assumed command of the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion in Rochester, New York. He led his battalion for State Active Duty in response to Hurricane Sandy in November 2012, and in 2013 mobilized and deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The battalion provided aviation maintenance and sustainment to the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade through August 2014.

He is a Distinguished Graduate of the Army War College, Class of 2015, and several other military schools, including the Air War College, Command & General Staff College, Aviation Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms & Services Staff School, and the Electronic Warfare/Aircraft Survivability Course. James also holds a Master of Business Administration from New York University.

He is a Pilot-in-Command in the UH-60 Blackhawk and is rated in the AH-64 Apache, AH-1 Cobra, and UH-1 Huey helicopters, and several fixed wing aircraft.

James' awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, two Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medals, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korea Defense Service Medal, two Humanitarian Service Medals, three Overseas Service Ribbons, and the NATO Medal. He also holds the Master Army Aviator Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and other federal and state awards.

James is married to the former Lesia Koropey and has three children: Katherine, Juliana, and Nicholas. In his civilian career, he is a Corporate Vice President at the New York Life Insurance Company.

Brig. Gen. Michel A. Natali

A native of Watertown, N.Y., Brig. Gen. Michel Natali was commissioned into the Military Intelligence Corps in May 1987 after receiving a Reserve Officers Training Corps Commission from Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont.

He served on active duty assignments that included command of Headquarters Company of the 110th Military Intelligence Battalion and Intelligence Collection Manager for the 10th Mountain Division Intelligence Section at Fort Drum, N.Y. He also served as Battalion Intelligence Officer with 5th Battalion, 8th Infantry in Mainz, Germany.

While serving with the 10th Mountain Division, BG Natali deployed to Haiti in support of Operation Uphold Democracy, to Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope and to South Florida as part of the military response and relief efforts after Hurricane Andrew.

Natali joined the New York Army National Guard in December 1996.

His Army National Guard assignments include Intelligence Officer of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Intelligence Officer for the 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters, Deputy Commander of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Commander of the 106th Regional Training Institute, and Director for Intelligence and Security Joint Forces Headquarters-New York.

On December 3, 2016 Natali assumed command of the 53rd Troop Command.

He deployed to Iraq with the 42nd Infantry Division as Deputy Intelligence Officer in 2004-2005. He has also served as an Active Duty Guardsman as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence for the 42nd Infantry Division and as the Commander of the New York National Guard Counter Drug Task Force.

He is a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer Basic and Advance Courses, the Signals Intelligence Course, the Command and General Staff College as well as the Military Intelligence and Infantry Pre-Command Courses and the United States Army War College. He has also attended the Harvard Kennedy School General and Flag Officer Homeland Security Executive Seminar.

Natali holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Norwich University, a Master's in Public Administration from Marist College and a Master's in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.

Natali is currently assigned as the full-time Assistant Adjutant General Army and detailed as the Deputy Commanding General for National Guard Affairs at the United States Army Cyber Center of Excellence.

He is a retired New York State Police Investigator whose 20 years of service included assignments at the New York State Intelligence Center, the New York State Capital and in New York City subsequent to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, and the Army Parachutist badge.

Natali and his wife Barbara have three sons and two daughters.