AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage has convened a panel of 11 retired and current members of the armed services to seek out a new adjutant general of the Maine National Guard.

The search committee, which includes LePage’s public safety commissioner, John Morris, and former chief legal counsel, Michael Cianchette, has solicited applications from potential nominees. The administration hopes to have a new permanent adjutant general on duty by fall, which could require a summer confirmation by the Senate, according to a LePage spokeswoman.

The adjutant general not only leads the state’s Air and Army National Guard but also is the commissioner of the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.

It’s unknown how far and wide the search committee is looking for a new state militia leader, but at least one applicant is known. Brig. Gen. Gerard Bolduc, who LePage installed as interim adjutant general in March, said Tuesday he’d throw his hat in the ring.

“We’ve got some great people here, and I’m enjoying it,” Bolduc said in an interview. “I said [in March] that it was a great honor, and it still is.”

Bolduc was thrust into the highest post at Camp Keyes after LePage unceremoniously fired his predecessor, Brig. Gen. James Campbell, over the officer’s behind-the-scenes promotion of a plan to dismantle the Maine Army National Guard’s storied 133rd Engineer Battalion. Under the plan, which may still be in play, the battalion would have been replaced with an infantry unit.

The move was a play to minimize shrinkage in the Maine Guard amid national force restructuring, Campbell said, but some who opposed the move feared the shift from engineers to infantry would hurt the Guard’s ability to respond to state-level emergencies.

The search committee includes the following:

— Retired Army Maj. Gen. Mr. Stephen Nichols

— Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Stephen Atkinson

— Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Frances Auclair

— Retired Army Brig. Gen. Robert Carmichael

— Maine Public Safety Commissioner and Retired Navy Capt. John Morris

— Retired Marine Col. Robert McAleer

— Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Terry Moore

— Retired Army Lt. Col. Gil Pelletier

— Former LePage chief legal counsel and Navy Reserve Lt. Michael Cianchette

— Kennebec County Sheriff and retired Army Command Sgt. Maj.Randall Liberty

— Retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Steve Hughes

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and,...