The North Dakota National Guard’s Land Component Command welcomed a new leader after conducting a change of command Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Camp Grafton Training Center, near Devils Lake. Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, adjutant general for the North Dakota National Guard, presided over the ceremony.

The outgoing commander, Brig. Gen. Leo Ryan, has led over 3,000 North Dakota Guard Soldiers since Sept. 2018. Col. Jonathan Erickson assumed command of the Land Component Command during the ceremony.

“The citizens of North Dakota are well served by the unwavering dedication of our National Guard soldiers, thanks in part to outstanding leaders like Brig. Gen. Leo Ryan,” said Gov. Doug Burgum, commander in chief of the North Dakota National Guard. “Our well-trained Guard soldiers continually answer the call of duty here at home and across the nation and world. We are deeply grateful to Brig. Gen. Ryan for his service to North Dakota and the nation.”

The change of command ceremony is a military tradition which allows soldiers to view the formal transfer of responsibility from one individual to another. As the orders formally designating the new commander are read aloud, the unit’s colors (flag) are passed from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander.

“I am extremely appreciative of the level of service and dedication to duty exhibited by Brig. Gen. Ryan during his 36 years to the North Dakota National Guard,” Dohrmann said. “His commitment to taking care of soldiers and ensuring they were properly trained and ready to respond when called ensured our mission success. We wish him well in his well-deserved retirement.”

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Dohrmann cited the National Guard’s successful support to the state’s COVID-19 response, wildland fire response and multiple domestic and overseas deployments during Ryan’s tenure as the commander.

Ryan, a Jamestown native, enlisted in 1985 as a bridge crewman in the 957th Engineer Company. In 1992, he completed Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He has served in many key positions within the North Dakota Army National Guard. He commanded the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment; the N.D. Army National Guard’s Officer Candidate School and the 164th Regiment Regional Training Institute.

Ryan served overseas twice. In 1990, he deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm as a squad leader with the 132nd Quartermaster Company. He deployed again in 2007 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as the executive officer for the 164th Engineer Battalion.

A traditional guardsman, Ryan is an owner and practicing attorney of Dalsted and Ryan, P.C. with offices in Jamestown and Carrington, N.D. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Air Defense Artillery Officer Basic and Advance Courses, Airborne School, Air Assault School, and Command and General Staff College. Ryan received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Dakota in 1992 and his law degree from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1997. He earned a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in 2014.

“Thank you to all who placed their trust in me, I truly appreciate the support I have received,” Ryan said. “It’s has been an honor to serve alongside the soldiers of the North Dakota National Guard and my command team, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Rob Dorneman and Command Sgt. Maj. Derek Heck. Every time we’ve had to answer challenges, we’ve done it together.”

Ryan’s awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (five awards), Army Commendation Medal (four awards), Army Achievement Medal (four awards), Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal (second award), the Southwest Asia Service Medal (with three campaign stars), the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), the Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with M Device and Silver Hour Glass), the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal (with one campaign star), the North Dakota National Guard Commendation Ribbon, the North Dakota National Guard Emergency Service Ribbon, and Meritorious Unit Citation (one bronze oak leaf cluster).

In honor of his service and achievements over the past three years, Dohrmann awarded Ryan the North Dakota Distinguished Service Medal.

After Ryan thanked the audience, Erickson addressed the soldiers in attendance.

“I appreciate the faith and confidence placed in me by the adjutant general who selected me for this command,” Erickson said. “I will work hard every day ensuring my best efforts and commitment to all of the National Guard soldiers of this command. It’s quality soldiers like you that make our organization one of the best National Guard units in the nation and I am proud to serve with you.”

Erickson brings nearly three decades of experience to his new assignment. In 1994, he was commissioned as a military intelligence officer through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at the University of North Dakota. His assignments include command of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Fort Bliss, Texas, where he deployed his unit to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch in 2000; command of the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, which deployed to the National Capital Region in support of Operation Noble Eagle in 2013; and command of the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Fargo, where he served as commander for a multinational force during Operation Saber Guardian in Romania in 2019.

He is a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Signals Intelligence Electronic Warfare Officer School, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the Air Defense Artillery Officer Transition Course, and Command and General Staff College. He earned a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College in 2014.

His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Army Commendation Medal (four awards), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal (three awards), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal, and the Combat Action Badge. He is a recipient of the Ancient and Honorable Orders of Saint Barbara.

In addition to commanding the North Dakota National Guard’s Land Component Command, Erickson will continue duties as the full time director of joint staff for the North Dakota National Guard.