Somerville News Weekly’s Special Person of the Week:Former Somerville Alderman/Massachusetts Army National Guard Brigadier General Richard F. Johnson

By Frank Santangelo


Brigadier General Richard F. Johnson is currently assigned as the Land Component Commander, Massachusetts National Guard. He advises the Adjutant General regarding Army issues and is responsible for all aspects of training, readiness, and force development for the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

Brigadier General Johnson began his career in 1985 as an enlisted military policeman. He enrolled in the Massachusetts Military Academy in 1988 and received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1989. Brigadier General Johnson has led soldiers on four combat deployments as a Platoon Leader in Iraq and Kuwait (Operation Desert Storm), Company Commander in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom), Battalion Commander in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom), and most recently as a Senior Advisor and Security Force Assistance Advisor Team (SFAAT) Commander with the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT) in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom). He has served in a number of domestic response operations including in New Orleans (JTF KATRINA) in 2005, the Democratic National Convention (JTF DNC) in 2004 as well as multiple storm, flood, and other natural disaster responses. His staff experience includes S-4 (Logistics), S-3 (Operations) and Executive Officer, 211th Military Police Battalion, Provost Marshal, Antiterrorism Officer, and Director of Joint Operations (J3) for the Massachusetts National Guard. Brigadier General Johnson has served in full time positions as the Team Chief, Pre-Mobilization Training Assistance Element (PTAE) and as Director of the National Guard Bureau Homeland Security Institute.

Brigadier General Johnson’s command experience includes the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade where he was dual-hatted as the FEMA Region I CBRN Homeland Response Force (HRF) Commander, the 211th Military Police Battalion (OIF), the 772nd Military Police Company (OEF), and the 972nd Military Police Company.

Brigadier General Johnson holds graduate degrees in Public Affairs and Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts and was a 2011-12 National Security Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. He completed the National Security Management Course at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 2016.


2016 – National Security Management Course, Syracuse University Maxwell School

2016 – General and Flag Officer Homeland Security Seminar, Harvard Kennedy School

2016 – Senior Executive Antiterrorism Seminar, Joint Chiefs of Staff

2015 – Senior Leader Seminar, United States Army War College

2015 – Contingency Dual Status Commander, United States Northern Command

2015 – Joint Task Force Commander, United States Northern Command

2014 – Leadership in Homeland Security, Harvard Kennedy School

2012 – U.S. Army War College National Security Fellowship, Harvard Kennedy School

2009 – Battalion and Brigade Pre-Command, USAMPS

2008 – Advanced Joint Professional Military Education, Joint Forces Staff College

2007 – Criminal Antiterrorism Police Intelligence Management, USAMPS

2007 – Basic and Advanced Antiterrorism Officer, USAMPS

2006 – Command and General Staff Officer, Command and General Staff College

2001 – Combined Arms and Service Staff School, Command and General Staff College

1998 – Military Police Officer-Advanced Course, USAMPS

1990 – Military Police Officer-Basic Course, USAMPS

1985 – Military Police Basic and Advanced Individual Training, USAMPS


1. January 2017 – Commander, Massachusetts Army National Guard

2. January 2016 – Assistant Adjutant General

3. September 2013 – Commander, 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and Commander, Region I Homeland Response Force (CBRN)

4. December 2012 – Commander, Security Force Assistance Advisor Team, Jalalabad, Afghanistan, 101st Airborne Division (Operation Enduring Freedom)

5. August 2012 – Director of Joint Operations (J3), MANG

6. August 2011 – National Security Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

7. September 2010 – Director, NGB Homeland Security Institute

8. July 2008 – Provost Marshal JFHQ – MA

9. July 2009 – Commander, 211th Military Police Battalion, Task Force 134, COB Taji, Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom)

10. September 2007 – Team Chief, MAARNG, Pre-Mobilization Training Assistance Element

11. September 2006 – Antiterrorism Officer JFHQ – MA

12. November 2005 – Executive Officer (XO), 211th Military Police Battalion

13. August 2003 – Operations Officer (S3), 211th Military Police Battalion

14. June 2003 – Brigade Logistics Officer (S4), 51st Troop Command

15. June 2002 – Commander, 772nd Military Police Company Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF), Kabul, Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom)

16. March 2001 – Battalion Logistics Officer (S4), 211th Military Police Battalion

17. December 1997 – Commander, 972nd Military Police Company

18. June 1995 – Assistant S3, 211th Military Police Battalion

19. September 1990 – Platoon Leader, 972nd Military Police Company, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait (Operation Desert Shield/Storm)



Legion of Merit

Bronze Star Medal (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters)

Meritorious Service Medal (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)

Army Commendation Medal (Silver Oak Leaf Cluster)

Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal

Air Force Commendation Medal

Army RC Achievement Medal (Silver Oak Leaf Cluster)

Army Achievement Medal

Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star

Iraq Campaign Medal

Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star

Southwest Asia Service Medal with Three Bronze Service Stars

Armed Forces Medal

Humanitarian Service Medal

Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Silver Hour Glass and “M” Device (3)

Army Service Ribbon

Overseas Service Ribbon

Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon

Liberation of Kuwait Medal

Defense of Saudi Arabia Medal

NATO (ISAF) Service Medal

Massachusetts Service Medal with Silver Service Star

Massachusetts Desert Storm Service Ribbon

Massachusetts Emergency Service Ribbon

Combat Action Badge




Massachusetts State Police



National Guard Association of the United States

National Guard Association of Massachusetts

United States Army War College Foundation

Veterans of Foreign Wars

American Legion

Association of the First Corps of Cadets

State Police Association of Massachusetts



23 July 1989 Second Lieutenant

23 July 1992 First Lieutenant

23 July 1996 Captain

12 September 2003 Major

7 December 2007 Lieutenant Colonel

5 March 2013 Colonel

11 January 2017 Brigadier General
We here at the Somerville News Weekly salute you for everything that you do to make Somerville a better place. 

6 thoughts on “Somerville News Weekly’s Special Person of the Week:Former Somerville Alderman/Massachusetts Army National Guard Brigadier General Richard F. Johnson”

  1. I have known Richie many years, I am very proud of all his accomplishments and even more proud to call him a friend.

  2. Always a great guy from East Somerville! Congratulations Richie! We always knew you were awesome. Marybeth

  3. Brigader General Johnson is a true leader and hero and I am proud and honored to be his friend.
    Richard Papa

  4. Rich Johnson was a fine Alderman. He was, and still is, a class act and a great American. Just look at his record of service and accomplishment.
    Thank you for all of your service.

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