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Maine Senate confirms state's first woman to lead National Guard

Brigadier Gen. (Ret.) Diane Dunn was nominated by Gov. Janet Mills to serve as adjutant general of the Maine National Guard.
Office of Gov. Janet Mills
Brigadier Gen. (Ret.) Diane Dunn was nominated by Gov. Janet Mills to serve as adjutant general of the Maine National Guard.

The Maine National Guard will soon have a new top commander.

The state Senate voted 33-1 on Thursday to confirm the nomination of Brig. Gen. Diane Dunn of Rome. She will be the first woman to lead the Maine National Guard and the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.

Dunn worked her way up from a junior officer to the Guard's chief of staff over more than three decades. After retiring two years ago, she worked as a senior advisor and chief of staff to University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. But Gov. Janet Mills nominated Dunn last month to succeed retiring Adjutant General Douglas Farnham.

Republican Sen. Brad Farrin of Norridgewock, who retired as command chief master sergeant from the Maine Air National Guard in 2013, noted Dunn's historic achievement during a floor speech on Thursday but added she is simply the best person for the job.

"Every position has Diane has been put in by those above her, she has excelled," Farrin said. "Not only excelled but set the bar even higher. And it's not just wearing the uniform where she does that."

Dunn joined the Maine Army National Guard as a junior officer in 1988 and, by the time she retired in 2021, she had served as a commander of four different units. Those posts included leading the 286th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion when it deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2009.

Mills' office said it is working with the U.S. Army and the National Guard Bureau on the processes necessary to return Dunn to active status in the military. She is expected to be sworn in next month.

“I am deeply honored to earn the support of the Maine Senate and am grateful for the opportunity to lead the talented and dedicated men and women of the Maine National Guard and Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management,” Dunn said in a statement. "I pledge to work hard every day, to lead with integrity, and to strive to fully discharge the responsibilities of the department to protect the lives, freedom, and property of Maine people."