Wright steps down from PA Nat Guard, accepts Pentagon post

The first woman commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard is stepping down to take a job at the Pentagon.

Maj. Gen. Jessica Wright, who also headed  the state's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, will become deputy assistant secretary of defense for manpower and personnel for the Defense Department.

Gov. Rendell, in a news conference today, praised Wright for her handling of major military and relief operations for the National Guard here and abroad over the past six years.

Rendell appointed Maj. Gen. Stephen Sischo, a 26-year veteran of the Air Force and the Air National Guard, as the commonwealth's acting adjutant general. Gen. Sischo currently serves as the state's deputy adjutant general for air operations.

Under Wright's leadership, Pennsylvania has deployed more than 19,000 Army and Air National Guardsmen to various conflicts and peacekeeping operations around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan and to relief efforts in response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the Haitian earthquake.

Pennsylvania has lost 48 guardsmen in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, more than any other state, Rendell noted today.

Wright also led the National Guard's response to natural disasters and emergencies such as severe winter storms, and flooding in Pennsylvania. During Hurricane Ivan, the Guard rescued one thousand people in the northeastern part of the state - many of them from rooftops - stranded when the Delaware River flooded.

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