FORT PICKETT, Va. — Col. Blake C. Ortner was promoted to brigadier general in a ceremony hosted by Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr, the Adjutant General of Virginia, June 16, 2013, at Fort Pickett. With the promotion, Ortner assumes the duties as the Virginia National Guard Land Component Commander and succeeds Brig. Gen. William R. Phillips, II, as the commander of the Virginia Army National Guard. Phillips is now assigned as deputy commanding general of the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division.
Long commended Ortner for his extensive credentials for the position, which include four deployments with one as a battalion commander and one as a brigade commander.
“I can’t think of a better person to meet this challenge, and we have a lot of talented senior officers in the Virginia National Guard,” Long said. “He has a huge portfolio of the things he has done, and I know he will succeed in meeting the challenge.”
Ortner most recently served as the operations officer for the Virginia Army National Guard. He thanked the members of the audience he served with as leaders, mentors, friends, colleagues and subordinates.
“Being here today, and the successes I have had have really been due to the officers and NCOs I served with,” Ortner said. “My success really belongs to you, and I wouldn’t be here without you.”
Ortner is as 1983 graduate of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn. where he received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. He also holds a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College Class of 2010. He resides in Stafford and is employed by Paralyzed Veterans of America in Washington, D.C. as the Senior Associate Legislation Director working with Congress to support veterans benefits and healthcare services.
He received a Regular Army commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps as an infantry officer and served on active duty until 1987. In 1989, Ortner joined the Virginia Army National Guard, serving in numerous assignments during over 20 years in the 116th Infantry Regiment and 29th Infantry Division to include rifle company commander, battalion operations officer, battalion commander, brigade operations officer, brigade executive officer, brigade deputy commander, brigade commander and division operations officer. In 2001, Ortner served as the Division Chief of Operations, Multi-National Division – North as part of the 29th Infantry Division support of Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovinian.
Ortner commanded 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Battalion and deployed the battalion in 2004 to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as the first Virginia National Guard infantry battalion to deploy to combat since World War II. In 2007, Ortner was assigned as the deputy commander of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he served as a member of the Multi-National Forces – Iraq Area Support Group and later as the chief of operations for MNF-I. He assumed command of the 116th IBCT in June 2009 and in May 2011 the brigade headquarters was mobilized for combat operations in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom where he commanded Combined Team Zabul which included active duty and NATO Romanian infantry battalions.
Ortner’s military education includes the Airborne School, Infantry Officers Basic Course, Ranger School, Airborne Jumpmaster Course, Military Freefall School, Infantry Officers Advanced Course, Combined Arms Service Staff School, Army Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army War College and the Joint and Combined Warfighting School.
Ortner’s awards and decorations include the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Combat Action Badge, the Ranger Tab, the Parachutist Badge, the Military Freefall Parachutist Badge, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with bronze service star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M, Silver Hourglass and Numeral 4 devices, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral 2 device, the NATO Medal and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.