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Combat veteran, South Dakota Guard General retires after 36 years of service to state, nation

RAPID CITY, SD – Brig. Gen. Michael Oster, of Rapid City, retired from the South Dakota Army National Guard after more than 36 years of military service to his community, state and nation. He was honored for his service during a retirement ceremony at Joint Force Headquarters on Camp Rapid, April 2.

Oster’s career culminated as the Army assistant adjutant general and land component commander, and he held numerous key leadership positions during his military service. Oster served as the assistant adjutant General from Oct. 5, 2019 – Dec. 5, 2021, and was responsible for strategic planning, strength management, troop readiness and mobilization support for the state’s nearly 3,200 Army National Guard soldiers.

“You can’t come in contact with Mike Oster without being able to see his passion and his commitment to excellence,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Marlette, South Dakota National Guard adjutant general. “His care for other people, his willingness to get involved and his willingness to leave everything he comes in contact with better than he left it, including people, is truly inspiring.”

“What an awesome journey I’ve had over the past 36 years. This doesn’t happen without a lot of people around you,” said Oster. “I could not be more blessed with the career that I had because of the people I have met and served with.”

Oster supported the adjutant general’s goals and objectives exhibiting outstanding leadership and challenging subordinate commanders to perform at unprecedented levels during the COVID-19 Pandemic, ensuring all units were properly trained, manned, and equipped to support state and federal missions, while simultaneously ensuring the utmost care of soldiers and their families.

While serving as the assistant adjutant, Oster assisted in leading the organization through a particularly challenging time during the state’s response to COVID-19.  He was influential in establishing contact tracing teams to support the South Dakota Department of Health with teams from the Air and Army Guard, as well as coordination for two backup alternate care facilities to support healthcare networks in Rapid City and Sioux Falls.

During Oster’s tenure, the SDARNG mobilized eight units along with dozens of individual deployments in support of federal contingencies to five different continents totaling over 500 soldiers in support of various operations. He also oversaw the SDARNG’s support to state civilian authorities during several civil disturbance events in 2020.

“The manner in which he has executed his duties has made a significant and lasting contribution to the long-term readiness and professionalism for the soldiers of the South Dakota Army National Guard,” Marlette said.

Oster began his military service in 1986 enlisting as a combat wire installer with Battery A, 1st Battalion, 147th Field Artillery in Mitchell. He received his commission through the Officer Candidate School program in 1990.

He has served at nearly every staff level and command position throughout his career. Oster has commanded the 665th Maintenance Company, 727th Transportation Company, Recruiting and Retention Battalion the 152nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and the 109th Regional Support Group.

He is also a combat veteran and completed two tours of duty: one to Iraq in 2004-2005 with the Rapid Fielding Initiative, and his second tour to Afghanistan with the 152nd CSSB in 2013. Oster earned his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from South Dakota State University and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College

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