RENO — A veteran with 31 years of military service, Brig. Gen. Zachary Dozer of Reno assumed command of the Nevada Army National Guard Sunday from Fallon native Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan, who held the position for four years.
In a time-honored ceremony, the change of command includes the passing of the state command colors from the outgoing commander to the adjutant general and then to the incoming commander.
Doser, a detective with the Reno Police Department, formerly served as director of the joint staff, Nevada Joint Force Headquarters. As the domestic operations Joint Task Force commander, he oversaw operations that supported more than 4,300 soldiers and airmen serving in the Nevada National Guard.
“He is a dedicated, trusted and exception leader,” said Hanifan as he addressed the audience after the passing of the guidon. “Brig. Gen. Doser is the most qualified candidate to become commander of the Army Guard.”
Hanifan, who received the Legion of Merit after a pass in review and the change of command, now becomes the assistant adjutant general.
Commissioned a second lieutenant from the University of Nevada’, Reno’s ROTC program in 1985, Doser graduated from UNR in 1986. His command experience and deployment to Afghanistan during 2008-2009 prepared him for state command responsibility.
“My experience set a solid foundation of me going forward,” Doser said, adding his deployment to Southwest Asia strengthened his military resume.
Doser, along with Hanifan, are the highest ranking officers in the Nevada Army National Guard. In his position, Doser is responsible for the readiness of more than 2,500 Army guard men and women.
Doser said soldier readiness is paramount to the Nevada Guard’s mission.
“We have all this modern equipment, but we need to have trained and ready soldiers,” Doser said.”My focus will be soldier readiness.”
Doser is the right man at the right time, said Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has never missed a Nevada National Guard or deployment or redeployment in his seven years in office. Sandoval said he is confident Doser will have the guard prepared both international and domestic missions, especially during the fire season and flood assistance.
“He will carry the football to the next level,” Sandoval said. “I have seen Gen. Doser move up the ranks during therapist seven years,. He has the respect of the troops.”
Sandoval said Doser’s commitment to both the Nevada National Guard and the Reno Police Department shows a lifetime of service in serving people.
“Without a doubt, you will be given a chance to lead these men and women in uniform,” Sandoval said. “This is an enormous responsibility.”
The governor has followed Hanifan as commander of the Army Guard since he promoted the Fallon graduate to brigadier general in August 2013.
“Gen. Hanifan has been an exceptional leader, something I admire and respect,” Sandoval said. Most importantly is how he cares about the individual soldiers and their families. He’s a true Nevadan, true soldier and a true patriot.”
Both Sandoval and Hanifan both mentioned their participation in an annual run to remember three members of the Nevada Army National Guard who were gunned down at the Carson City IHOP in September 2011. Sandoval said Hanifan’s involvement shows his commitment to the soldiers under his command.
“A son of Churchill County, he is a true leader and member of the Nevada family,” Sandoval said.
From the time he graduated from Churchill County High School in 1982, Hanifan has had a distinguished military career. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and received his commission in 1986. He then served on active duty for 10 years in various positions a s military intelligence officer. While on active duty, Hanifan participated in numerous Team Spirit and National training Center rotations.
He returned to Nevada in 1996 and joined GE’s Bently Nevada in Douglas County. He is currently the engineering manager for sustaining, including hardware, software, custom products and failure analysis.
Hanifan joined the Nevada Army National Guard in 1998 after two years with the Army’s Individual Readiness Reserves and has served in numerous positions for 19 years. Since Sept. 11, 2001, when three jet airliners crashed into the World trade Center and the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in a field in western Pennsylvania, Hanifan was activated four times for more than four combined years including officer in charge of the Nevada National Guard airport security following the attacks.
Since 2013, Nevada units deployed to many countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and the Horn of Africa.
“This has been a busy four years, one of the busiest in the history of the Nevada Army Guard,” he said.
Hanifan also said about 25 percent of guardsmen supported the active army with its military operations. He also touted the state partnership with Tonga and re-emphasized his focus on readiness, education and safety during his command. He said Nevada soldiers are ready for any mission, and advanced military education became a priority for many officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs).
The Fallon native said Nevada did not lose one soldier during an overseas’ mission.
“We never let the requirements compromise the safety for our soldiers,” he said.
Hanifan also noted this is the first time since 2003 that no Nevada units are deployed overseas.
“All of our soldiers are home,” Hanifan said to applause from the audience.
Because the active Army’s ranks are stretched thin, however, Hanifan said the National Guard and Army Reserves will be asked to support the Army’s missions in the future.
Brig. Gen. William R. Burks, the state’s adjutant general, thanked both families for their unwavering support of Hanifan and Doser and how the change of command ceremony honors both the state’s history and incoming and outgoing commanders.
“The passing of the proverbial torch from Brig. Gen. Hanifan to Brig. Gen. Doser shows respect to the former commander,” Burks said.
The adjutant general expressed confidence in the leadership, saying both general officers have been in “lockstep” for several years of what the Nevada Army National’s Guard’s direction is.
Both Nevada U.S. Senators Dean Heller and Catherine Cortez-Masto also attended the event and praised both commanders and the role of the Nevada Guard. They both offered the incoming commander and the Nevada Guard any support they may need in the future.
Steve Ranson is also the new editor of a veterans’ magazine, Veterans & Valor, which makes its debut in September.