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Utah Guard Gen. Tarbet to retire; successor to be named Thursday

Published May 23, 2012 4:50 pm

Military • He oversaw a decade of intense demands on Utah guard units after 9/11.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Brian Tarbet, who has commanded the Utah National Guard for 12 transformational years, will retire at the end of September.

Gov. Gary Herbert plans to announce a new adjutant general for the Guard Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Utah State Capitol. The Guard has 7,000 soldiers and airmen.

Ally Isom, the governor's spokeswoman, declined to name Tarbet's replacement on Wednesday.

Tarbet, an attorney by training, was first appointed adjutant general in 2000.

In an interview last August, he spoke of the daunting demands on the Guard to provide security during the 2002 Winter Olympics after the 9/11 attacks. He recalled sitting in the Olympic stadium with the explosions from fireworks going off.

"You'd just think, 'I hope those are all good ones.' You just didn't know," he said. "I was glad when it was over because it definitely felt like we had a bull's-eye on our backs for a couple weeks."

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 demanded repeated deployments of Utah Guard soldiers, and the mobilizations began early because the Utah Guard has the kind of units that were needed — intelligence, Special Forces and aviation assets.

"In 2003-2004, we had 80 percent of our units mobilized or alerted to be mobilized," Tarbet said. "That was the highest by far in the Guard. As this has played out over the years, every Guard unit in every state has been used two, three times."

Even now, more than 400 members of the Utah Guard's 211th Aviation Regiment— including Apache and Blackhawk pilots and their crews — are in Afghanistan. Tarbet's son is one of those Blackhawk pilots, due to return home this summer.

According to a Guard news release Wednesday, other highlights of Tarbet's tenure include:

• Activations for natural disasters and civil emergencies involving flooding, fires, snow and windstorms, including hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, when the Utah Guard sent units to the Gulf Coast and housed evacuees at Camp Williams.

• Deployments to the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006-07 in support of Customs and Border Protection operations.

• A State Partnership Program affiliation with Morocco since 2003.

• Construction of new readiness centers at Camp Williams, Orem and Salt Lake City, as well as the remodeling of a number of armories statewide.

• Building a comprehensive Family Support program to meet the needs of Guard spouses, children and families and cultivating ties to civilian employers through Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and other initiatives.

kmoulton@sltrib.com