Mark Anderson: Pulling Double Duty

By Jeanne Nagle | November 11, 2019 | Profiles

Maj. Gen. Mark Anderson ’86 has made quite a name for himself in military circles by wearing many hats simultaneously. Granted, all reservists such as Anderson are adept at juggling civilian employment with military duty. In this case, however, the juggling has reached the highest echelon of service. For the first six months of 2018, Anderson had been the deputy adjutant general for Army in Wisconsin—a position he had held since 2008—while simultaneously assuming the duties of deputy commanding general, Army National Guard, for the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). In other words, this “dual-hat” assignment, as the military deems such situations, made him a pretty big cheese within both the state and federal National Guard. (He passed the deputy adjutant general mantel to Brig. Gen. Joane Matthews in June of last year.)

This wasn’t the first time Anderson had tackled dual assignments. Over the course of his tenure as Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant, he had concurrently commanded National Guard field artillery units at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (2009-12) and served as special assistant on diversity to the chief of the National Guard Bureau (2015-18), which oversees the Guard on the federal level. Along with the TRADOC assignment came a promotion in rank, to a two-star major general.

As a UWSP student working toward an undergraduate degree in water resources in the 1980s, Anderson enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve, assigned as a radio teletype operator. The position required him to “establish and maintain encrypted communications,” meaning he worked with classified information.

In order to help pay for his schooling, he also held a summer job at Consolidated Paper, Inc. (CPI), his eventual full-time civilian employer following graduation.

“I was always fascinated by the military and the thought of serving our country in something greater than myself,” Anderson says, explaining his initial enlistment. “I did see the Army Reserve as another source of income while in college, but that was very low on my reasons for joining.”

After about a year in the Reserve, he yearned for more challenging assignments. At the urging of a friend, he transferred to the National Guard and enrolled in Ofticer Candidate School, with the objective of becoming an officer assigned to a field artillery unit. In 1985, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant assigned to the 120th Field Artillery Battalion of the Wisconsin National Guard. Command positions with various other artillery brigades would follow.

In his role as an artillery officer, Anderson was tasked with training soldiers to move, position and fire cannon artillery, safely and with accuracy. “We were also nuclear capable at that time,” he says, “and I trained on and led a team capable of assembling and firing nuclear-tipped artillery rounds.”

All the while, Anderson says, he was ready, willing and able to be deployed into combat, if the opportunity arose. In 2005, he volunteered for a military advisory assignment, leading a 16-person team that was embedded with the Iraqi Army.

“We operated in the areas around Fallujah and Ramadi, which were extremely dangerous at that time,” he relates. “We were attacked multiple times and had to defend ourselves and the Iraqis we were training.”

After about a year in that combat zone, Anderson was happy to return home to his wife, Barbara, and the rest of his family. He also returned to his civilian job as a resources manager for Consolidated Water Power Company, a utility subsidiary of what used to be CPI and is now known as Verso. He left that job in 2008, when he was named deputy adjutant.

Any time he has returned to the UWSP campus to speak to Military Science students, Anderson focuses on the “personal commitment required to serve, and that what they are doing is a noble endeavor. I relate some of the experiences I have had in my years of service and how, even to this very day, I consider myself always learning.”


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