By W. Thomas Smith Jr., P1 Contributor

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, who leads the 900-plus employee Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD), will now also command the near-1,000-person South Carolina State Guard (SCSG).

The SCSG flag was transferred from retiring commander, Maj. Gen. Tom Mullikin, to Lott on Saturday, December 1, during ceremonies on the Senate floor of the S.C. State House in Columbia.

Governor Henry McMaster presided over the ceremony attended by numerous state legislators; U.S. Congressman Joe Wilson; several flag and general-officers from all services including Lt. Gen. Mike Garrett, commanding general of the U.S. 3rd Army; U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Jim Livingston, a recipient of the Medal of Honor; and Maj. Gen. Bob Livingston, the adjutant general of South Carolina.

Lott – who serves as president of the Association of the United States Army (Palmetto State Chapter) – has served in various leadership and command capacities in both SCSG and the S.C. Military Department’s Joint Service Detachment (SCMD-JSD). In SCSG, he has held the posts of commander of the SCSG’s provost marshal’s detachment, deputy commander for SCSG special operations, and deputy commander SCSG. He is a 43-year career law enforcement officer who has served as sheriff of Richland County for more than 20 years.

Mullikin, the outgoing SCSG commander, was recently appointed by Gov. McMaster to chair the state’s new Flood Commission. He has served in varying leadership and command capacities in both the SCSG and the SCMD-JSD, as well as the U.S. Army Reserve. An accomplished SCUBA diver and dive instructor – having logged dives in all oceans of the world (including ice dives in in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans) – Mullikin also serves on the RCSD dive team as an instructor.

Established as the First Provincial Militia in 1670, the SCSG is an all-volunteer state defense force organization within the S.C. Military Department, which also includes the S.C. Army National Guard, the S.C. Air National Guard, the state’s Emergency Management Division, and the SCSG among other elements. SCSG Guardsmen include retired and former U.S. Army Special Forces operators, Army Rangers, U.S. Marine infantrymen, engineers, medical professionals, attorneys and law enforcement officers among others.

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