Nevada Guard hires first woman ever to command brigade |

Nevada Guard hires first woman ever to command brigade

Sgt. Mike Orton
106th Public Affairs Detachment
Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan hands the colors off to Col. Joanne Farris, signaling the change of command for the 991st Multi-Functional Brigade. Farris is the first female brigade commander in the state of Nevada.
Sgt. Mike Orton |

More than 100 Soldiers, friends, and family were at the Army Aviation Support Facility to witness history as Col. Joanne Farris recently become the first female brigade commander in Nevada Guard history, according to Nevada Army Guard commander Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan.

Farris assumed command of the 991st Multi-Functional Brigade from Col. Dan Waters. Waters will become the Nevada Army Guard Chief of Staff later this year. Farris now oversees more than 700 Soldiers including all of the Nevada Army Guard’s aviation assets.

“I am so honored to take command of the 991st Multi-Functional Brigade,” Farris said. “There is nothing more meaningful than the privilege of leading Soldiers.”

Farris, who joined the Guard more than 25 years ago as a private first class and later commissioned from the University of Nevada, Reno ROTC program in 1991, said she was excited about future opportunities.

“I know this position comes with tremendous responsibilities,” Farris said. “I will give the 991st Brigade my very best.”

Since 2001, the brigade’s units have deployed 13 times.

Hanifan said Farris’ experience in aviation command will serve her well in her new role as brigade commander.

“You are coming from a position of strength, having been deputy brigade commander over the last year,” Hanifan said of Farris during the change of command ceremony. “You were selected because you have my full confidence that you will lead this organization in a positive direction. You are the right Soldier for this job.”

Farris formerly commanded the 1-69th Press Camp Headquarters, which deployed to Bosnia in 1999. She has also served as the Nevada Guard state family program director, Joint Force Headquarters commander, 1-421st Regional Training Institute executive officer, and command information officer for the state of Nevada. She also deployed to Afghanistan with the 401st Army Field Support Brigade in 2011.

Farris earned her bachelor’s from UNR in 1991 and graduated from the Command and General Staff College in 2004, the same year she earned her master’s from Clayton College. She’s currently completing her second year of War College and is scheduled to graduate this summer.