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A former colonel in the Utah Army National Guard has been promoted to brigadier general by Gov. Norm Bangerter and will now serve as commanding general of the newly renamed Utah State Defense Force.

T. Ray Kingston will coordinate the peacetime mission in the state defense force, assisting other military units during natural disasters and as called upon by the governor.

The state defense force, formerly the Utah State Guard, was renamed by the Legislature last month and is comprised of veteran military personnel who conduct monthly training drills to practice their military skills. The defense force would constitute the state militia in the event the Utah National Guard were mobilized.

Kingston, who received a master's degree in microbiology from the University of Utah, is retired from the Utah Army National Guard where he served for 37 years. He is also a recipient of the Army's Meritorious Service Medal.