Former TAGs fill top 3 National Guard positions
In a photo dated Dec. 7, 2014, then-Army Maj. Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, formerly the adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard, addresses Airmen with the 142nd Fighter Wing during a demobilization ceremony at Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon. Hokanson would later be promoted to general and sworn in as the 29th chief of the National Guard Bureau, Aug. 3, 2020. He is joined by two other former adjutants general – Army Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, and Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, director of the Air National Guard – who are all serving in the National Guard’s top three positions. (Photo Credit: Tech. Sgt. John Hughel) VIEW ORIGINAL

ARLINGTON, Va. – For the first time since 1954, three former adjutants general are serving in the National Guard’s top three positions.

Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson was sworn in as chief of the National Guard Bureau (CNGB) Aug. 3, with Army Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen and Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Loh taking on the roles of Army and Air National Guard directors, respectively, in August as well.

Hokanson said serving as an adjutant general, the military head of Guard forces in a state or territory, brings additional insight into making national-level decisions.

“Our Guard members in the states face unique challenges in their warfight and domestic response missions,” said Hokanson, a former adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard. “The experience we gained as [adjutants general] provides us perspective on those challenges. Ultimately, this will help inform our decisions and factor into the advice we provide to key leaders going forward.”

In his change of responsibility ceremony, Loh acknowledged the currently serving adjutants general and the continued support they can expect to receive at the national level.

“I know firsthand the amount of work you put in, especially during these challenging times,” said Loh, who served as the adjutant general of the Colorado National Guard. “Please know that we up here work just as hard to get you the equipment, the resources and the policies so you can be successful.”

Jensen, who served as the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, echoed a similar sentiment during his change of responsibility ceremony.

“To the great collection of senior leaders we have serving as adjutants general, I look forward to serving you all as we meet the challenges that face our nation, our states, and our Army at this time and into the future,” he said.

In 1954, Army Maj. Gen. Edgar C. Erickson, who served as the adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard, was the CNGB. Army Brig. Gen. William Abdenroth headed the Army Guard, while Air Force Brig. Gen. Earl Ricks oversaw the Air Guard.

Abdenroth had been commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, and Ricks was adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard. But while Abdenroth and Ricks headed up the Army and Air Guard, neither was referred to as “director.”

“The precursor to the service director positions was established at the rank of brigadier general in the mid-1940s, with the establishment of the Air National Guard,” said Army Lt. Col. Adam Morgan, a historian with the NGB.

The director positions were then known as the chief of the Army Division and chief of the Air Division, with the CNGB having oversight on the Guard as a whole, said Morgan. By the early 1970s, the positions had evolved.

“Around 1970, [the] Total Force policy emerged, prompting structural changes designed to improve the process of integrating the National Guard and reserve with the active component,” Morgan said.

Those changes, he added, were in part reflected in the progression of the positions’ rank.

“The top positions were designated as directors and then elevated to the rank of major general, and further elevated to the lieutenant general rank in 2001,” Morgan said.

The CNGB position has seen a similar evolution, according to Morgan.

Established in 1908 as the chief of the Militia Bureau, the position was held by active component officers until 1920, when it was mandated the role be filled by a major general from the Guard. The position was elevated to lieutenant general in the mid-1970s and then to the rank of general as part of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act.

The 2012 NDAA mandated the CNGB serve as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledging the National Guard’s expanding responsibility as the primary combat reserve of the Army and Air Force and the unique strengths the Guard brings to the joint force.

“As a JCS member, the CNGB advises the president and the secretary of defense on the status of the non-federalized National Guard forces,” said Morgan. “The experience of having commanded non-federalized forces at the state level can be valuable in that environment.”

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