New York National Guard General Officers Swap Leadership Positions on Sunday, Dec. 3 in Latham ceremony

Media Advisory

LATHAM, NY (12/01/2023) (readMedia)-- Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Jack James will take command of the New York National Guard's 53rd Troop Command at the New York National Guard headquarters on Sunday, December 3.

Members of the media are welcome to cover the traditional change of command ceremony.

WHO: Brigadier General Jack James, currently serving as one of two deputy commanders of the 42nd Infantry Division, the incoming commander; Brig. Gen. Joseph Biehler, a veteran of deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait, the outgoing commander; and Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York who will preside.

WHAT: A traditional change-of-command ceremony in which the colors, or flag, of the 53rd Troop Command will be transferred from Biehler, who has commanded the unit since 2021, to James by Shields. Traditionally the colors identified the center of the unit and the location of the commander on the battlefield. The transfer ceremony allowed the Soldiers to see who they would follow into battle.

Biehler and James will again be switching jobs, with Biehler moving into the position of Deputy Division Commander-Maneuver for the Troy-based 42nd Infantry Division. The two previously swapped in 2021. Biehler moves back to the 42nd Division and is expected to take command in 2024.

WHEN: 11 a.m. Sunday, December 3, 2023. Press should plan to be present prior to 11 a.m.

WHERE: New York National Guard State Headquarters, 330 Old Niskayuna Road, Latham, N.Y.

Coverage Opportunities:

Reporters will be able to obtain video and still images of the change of command and interview the incoming and outgoing commanders as well as Major General Ray Shields who commands the New York National Guard. For access to this secure facility, contact the New York National Guard Public Affairs Office at 518-786-4581.


Brigadier General Jack James

Brigadier General Jack James, an Army aviator, has been serving as one of two assistant division commanders for the 42nd Infantry Division, the New York Army National Guard's other major general officer command, based in Troy.

James, a resident of Palm Harbor, Florida, previously commanded the troop command from 2019-2021 and prior to that 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.

He 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.

Brigadier General Joseph Biehler

A resident of Webster, near Rochester, Biehler took command of the 53rd Troop Command in 2021.

He is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was part of the division headquarters deployment to Kuwait in 2020, where the Soldiers served as the headquarters for Operation Spartan Shield, the 10,000 Soldier U.S. Army element in the Middle East.

Biehler has served in the Army National Guard since May of 1987 when he was commissioned as an infantry officer. He served as a rifle platoon leader, mortar platoon leader, and support platoon leader, company executive officer and twice as a rifle company commander. He has served in battalion and brigade staff positions as well.

He also deployed to Iraq in 2004 while serving as the operations officer of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry and then as the battalion's commander during a 2012 deployment to Afghanistan.

Biehler also commanded the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team which is headquartered in Syracuse but has elements across the state.

He served as the assistant division commander for maneuver of the 42nd Infantry Division from 2017 to 2021.

Biehler is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms Staff Service School, Intermediate Level Education, the Army War College, Airborne School, Air Assault School, and Ranger School.

He holds a bachelor's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in accounting from St. John Fisher College. He also holds a master's degree in strategic studies from the Army War College.

Biehler's awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal National Defense Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals, the NATO Medal, the Basic Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Ranger Tab, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Biehler was born in Rochester, New York and graduated from McQuaid Jesuit High School in 1983.

In civilian life he works as a Finance Director for L3 Harris Technologies in Rochester.

He and his wife Sonya have two adult sons.

The 53rd Troop Command

Headquartered at Camp Smith Training Site in Peekskill, the 53rd Troop Command is one of two general officer major commands in the New York Army National Guard. The 53rd Troop Command is authorized just over 4,000 Soldiers and has units located across New York.

The 53rd Troop Command is comprised of combat support and combat service support units, like military police, signal, transportation, engineer, and logistics units.

The 42nd Infantry Division

The 42nd Infantry Division traces its history back to World War I when it was comprised of National Guard units from 26 states and one of the first American divisions deploy to France. In World War II the division fought its way through southern Germany and liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp.

In 20040-2005 the 42nd Infantry Division headquarters and support elements deployed to Iraq and was responsible for over 20,000 Soldiers deployed north of Baghdad. This was the first time a National Guard division headquarters had deployed since the Korean War.

In 2020 the division headquarters deployed to Kuwait and exercised command over Task Force Spartan Shield, a 10,000- Soldier element conducting a variety of missions in the Middle East.

The division headquarters is responsible for the training of National Guard units in New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine as well as the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 369th Sustainment Brigade, and the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade in New York .