Phillips named 29th ID deputy commander, Ortner new Va. Army Guard commander

Brig. Gen. William R. Phillips, II

Brig. Gen. William R. Phillips, II

SANDSTON, Va. — Brig. Gen. William R. Phillips, II, has been selected to succeed Brig. Gen. William J. O’Neil as deputy commanding general of the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division, and Col. Blake C. Ortner has been named to succeed Phillips as the Virginia National Guard land component commander, according to an announcement made April 24, 2013, by Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. O’Neil will retire effective July 1, 2013, after 27 years of service.

“Brig. Gen. Phillips will bring a wealth of experience to his new assignment as the deputy commanding general of the 29th Infantry Division,” Long said. “His recent superb performance as the Virginia Army National Guard’s land component commander is reflected in the status of the organization as one of the very best in the nation.”

Phillips became the land component commander of the Virginia Army National Guard on Oct. 2, 2010. Ortner most recently served as the Virginia Army National Guard operations officer after commanding the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

“Col. Ortner epitomizes the type of professional excellence needed to lead the present and future Virginia Army National Guard,” Long said. “His maturity and breadth of experiences make him the ideal candidate to serve as the next Virginia Army National Guard land component commander.”

Long characterized O’Neill’s service as “exemplary” after serving in command assignments at the company, battalion, brigade and division level.

“Brig. Gen. O’Neil’s tenure in the Virginia National Guard is marked with superior performance,” Long said. “Please join me in thanking him for his dedicated, loyal and faithful service in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I wish him well in all of his future endeavors.”


Additional biographical information:

Phillips was promoted to brigadier general Oct. 2, 2010, and took charge of the Virginia Army National Guard after commanding the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from February 2008 to June 2009. He commanded the 116th IBCT HQs during an eight-month deployment to Iraq from June 2007 to February 2008 as the Joint Area Support Group in downtown Baghdad. The Joint Area Support Group controlled and coordinated all security and infrastructure for the Multinational Forces – Iraq and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s International Zone (better known as the Green Zone). The headquarters also tracked operations for two subordinate battalions and two separate companies assigned to the 116th operating elsewhere in Iraq and Kuwait.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1975 as a military police Soldier. He served in this capacity until 1979 when he enlisted in the New Jersey Army National Guard as a communications specialist. In 1980 he attended Officer Candidate School at the New Jersey Military Academy and was commissioned a second lieutenant Aug. 31 1981.

Phillips commanded Company C and the Headquarters Company of 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment and also served as the battalion logistics officer, battalion operations officer, executive officer and eventually battalion commander. He also served as executive officer of 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division and deputy commander and commander of the 116th Brigade Combat Team.

Phillips has been awarded numerous awards to include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, two Army Commendation Medals, eight Army Achievement Medals, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M (Mobilized) device, the Korean Service Medal, the Virginia Bronze Star and the Combat Action Badge.

He holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Averett College and a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College.


Ortner is as 1983 graduate of University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN 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 twenty 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 of 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 Two. In 2007, Ortner was assigned as the Deputy Commander of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and deployed to Bagdad, 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 BCT 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 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, the National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with 2 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.