Long-time National Guard leader to retire next spring


By Lesley Weidenbener

INDIANAPOLIS – Adjutant General Martin Umbarger will retire in May after 45 years of service with the Indiana National Guard.

Major General Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, spoke to a group of riders in 2013 before Gov. Mike Pence led them on a 100-mile trip through Eastern Indiana. Donations from the event support the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund, which helps soldiers and their families. Photo by Lesley Weidenbener, TheStatehouseFile.com

“There comes a time in everyone’s life and career to pass the ‘colors of leadership’ onto the next generation,” Umbarger said in a public letter to soldiers and others. “This is not a sad day but a very happy day as I reflect on the honor of serving with the best men and women of our nation.”

Umbarger began his career as an enlisted soldier in the Indiana Army National Guard in 1969 and moved up over the years until former Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan appointed him to the state’s top post in 2004.

Republican Govs. Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence then reappointed him to the job, in which he oversees the Indiana Army and Air National Guard, the Indiana Guard Reserve and state employees all totaling more than 15,800 personnel.

On Tuesday, Pence called Umbarger “a patriot and true public servant to the people of Indiana.”

“His leadership and insight have been invaluable to the guard, our state, and this great nation,” Pence said. “And I believe him to be a Hoosier hero in every sense of the word.”

In his role, Umbarger has overseen the development of state-owned land in Jennings County into the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, which is used by law enforcement and military units from across the country. He’s has won a number of awards, currently serves on the Secretary of Defense’s Reserve Forces Policy Board and previously served as a member of the Secretary of the Army’s Reserve Forces Policy Committee.

Major General Martin Umbarger from the Indiana National Guard voiced his support in August for a proposal meant to protect service members and their families from scams and provide them better financial advice. Photo by Seth Morin, TheStatehouseFile.com.

Pence said he planned to work with Umbarger to “transition to new leadership of our Indiana National Guard,” which is the fourth largest in the nation.

As a civilian, Umbarger is president of Roy Umbarger & Sons in Bargersville, a fourth generation family-owned and operated business that develops feed for show animals.

The Indiana National Guard also announced that retired Col. David Shorter will leave his post as director of state operations. He will retire next month 14 years of state service and approximately 30 years of military service.

“I am much honored to have served this great organization for more than 43 years, as both a soldier and state employee,” Shorter said in a statement. “The relationships I’ve forged over the years mean a great deal to me and will forever be with me.”