Col. Bates takes command of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade

Col. Ronnie Barnes relinquishes command of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade to Brig. Gen. Robert Larkin during a change of command ceremony Sept. 19, at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Kentucky. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Michael Reinersman)

By Capt. Michael Reinersman, 138th Field Artillery Brigade Public Affairs

GREENVILLE, Ky. – The 138th Field Artillery Brigade honored Col. Ronnie Barnes as he relinquished command to Col. Andrew J. Bates during a change of command ceremony Sept. 19, at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky.

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The 138th Field Artillery Brigade initially organized on Jan. 21, 1839, as the Louisville Legion. The 138th, headquartered in Lexington, commands battalions in Lexington, Harrodsburg, and Glasgow, Kentucky.

Brig. Gen. Robert Larkin, assistant adjutant general for Kentucky, presided over the ceremony and passed the colors from Barnes to Bates.

Larkin recognized both leaders’ accomplishments and the 138th for overcoming challenges during the last two years.

“The 138th participated in two warfighters to prepare for Western Strike, which would have moved the entire brigade to Wyoming for the largest firing exercise in years,” said Larkin. “Now, granted, COVID-19 dashed that exercise. But you continued to be a force provider for the pandemic response.”

This year, Barnes led Task Force Thunder to help the Louisville Metro Police Department restore order and protect lives and property during a civil disturbance in Louisville.

“Civil unrest is undoubtedly the most difficult job the Guard may be called in to do,” added Larkin. “But Barnes did so with strength, honor, and overwhelming care for [his] troops.”

During the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. David Miller presented Barnes with a framed 138th FAB guidon to remember his service

“Through it all, I cannot be more pleased with the success of the Brigade and the dedication of our Soldiers,” said Barnes. “I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Soldiers, families, employers, and communities that support the Brigade.”

Barnes provided a pre-recorded message to the Soldiers of the 138th.

He will continue to serve the Kentucky Guard full-time as the United States Property and Fiscal Officer.

Moving from Joint Force Headquarters as the Deputy Chief of Plans, Bates assumes command of the artillery brigade known as “Kentucky Thunder.”


According to Col. Bates, the experience was a repeat from when he took battalion command.

“I’ve been spoiled in my field grade command assignments. I succeeded then Lt. Col. Barnes in command of 2/138th Field Artillery, the Paladin Battalion,” said Bates. “At that time, it was then Col. Larkin to pass me the colors. Then Maj. Steve Mattingly was battalion admin officer.”

Currently, Lt. Col. Steve Mattingly is the deputy commanding officer of the 138th and will continue to support Bates.

Bates joined the Kentucky Army National Guard in 1998 after serving in the 82nd Airborne Division.

“When I joined the Army as a private 30 years ago, I never imagined that I would be here today,” said Bates. “I am very grateful and will do my best to serve the Soldiers, the families of the 138th, and the citizens of the commonwealth.”

Bates also served in the 138th Field Artillery Headquarters, 206th Engineer Battalion, 63rd Aviation Brigade, Task Force Phoenix in Afghanistan, Kentucky Agricultural Development Team, and Kentucky Joint Force Headquarters.

During his 30 years of military service, he completed three overseas deployments as a Guardsman.

In his civilian career, he has worked for Jefferson County and Louisville Metro Government since 1998. He currently serves as Executive Administrator for the Department of Community Services.

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