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Brig. Gen. (Tenn.) Juan R. Santiago

Commanding General Tennessee State Guard

Brig. Gen. (Tenn.) Juan R. Santiago is commander of the Tennessee State Guard. He was appointed to the position in February 2021.

BG Santiago was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He attended Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola High School, and then earned the BS degree in Management Information Systems from University of Puerto Rico while also an Air Force ROTC Cadet.  He then earned his MBA from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., specializing in Operations Research, and later earned the Masters in Management Information Systems from Webster Marymount University in St. Louis, Missouri.

For more than 30 years, Santiago has served in the military as a member of the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force Reserves, and the Tennessee State Guard. He is a veteran of Desert Storm and served as an Information Technology (Cyber) Officer and Space Operations Officer for the Air Force. While in the Tennessee State Guard, Santiago served in multiple leadership positions including Regimental Commander, Chief of Staff, and Deputy Commanding General for Operations. He is also the Executive Director of the State Guard Association of the United States.

During his Air Force career BG Santiago served as the Director of Operations (J3M) for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and USSPACECOM Missile Warning Center in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, and as Missile Warning Center Combat Crew Commander prior to promotion as Director of Operations. He then served as the Chief of Standards and Evaluations for the Missile Warning Center, and as Communications Security officer. BG Santiago served as a senior Missile Warning officer for the Central Command during Operation Desert Storm, earning the Department of Defense Meritorious Service Medal along with other awards and decorations during the conflict. He then served as an exchange officer assigned to the Royal Air Force Strike Command Headquarters in High Wycombe, United Kingdom. BG Santiago earned the distinction of Distinguished Graduate from every service and military school he attended.

Upon discharge from the US Air Force, BG Santiago took a position as Senior Manager of IT at MCI Telecom.  After eight years at MCI he became the Executive Director for Software Engineering at Quantum, Corp. He also served as Vice President for Information Technology (IT) Solutions Delivery at Sports Authority headquarters in Denver, Colorado, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Lewis and Fowler in Denver, Colorado. BG Santiago then worked as Vice President of IT at AutoZone’s headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was responsible for all company software applications, software technical architecture and engineering, IT demand management, enterprise architecture, resource management (SAP), technical support for ~6000 stores nationwide, in Mexico and Brazil, and the project management office.

Upon retirement from AutoZone, BG Santiago continued his duties with the TNSG.  His initial assignment was with 1st Regiment, based in Memphis, Tennessee.  He commanded the 1st Regiment until assuming duties as head of Operations and Training (G3) at TNSG Headquarters in Nashville.  BG Santiago then served as Deputy Chief of Staff, Chief of Staff and finally as Deputy Commanding General, Operations.

BG Santiago has also been a Teaching Fellow and lecturer on IT leadership, Business Intelligence and data mining, technology strategic planning, IT value management, project management and risk management at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics, University of Memphis. He is also a member of the Memphis Society for Information Management’s (SIM), and is a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certified Emergency Management professional.

BG Santiago is married to the former Renee Lynn Zadel from Westminster, CO; a Senior IT Manager at FedEx.  The Santiago’s have five grown children:  sons Juan Jr., Carlos and Julio; and daughters Giselle and Nicole. 

The Tennessee State Guard is the all-volunteer arm of the Tennessee Military Department and is headquartered in Nashville. It consists of approximately 500 personnel and is authorized by Tennessee Code Annotated 58 1-401.