Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First four-star will lead National Guard

Since the dawn of this country's existence, the National Guard has stood shoulder to shoulder with the active duty forces, defending the Constitution and the American way of life.

In many cases, especially in cases of natural disasters and recent deployments to the Middle East, National Guardsmen have made sacrifices in lieu of their active duty counterparts.

Yet, through it all, the National Guard has not had equal representation at top levels of the Pentagon. That is, until now.

In a ceremony at the Pentagon yesterday, Lt. General Craig R. McKinley was awarded his fourth star. It is the first time in the 372-year history that the National Guard will be led by a four-star general.

More than 300 people from all military services including the National Guard attended the ceremony, witnessing Defense Secretary Robert Gates administer the oath of office.

"The promotion of Gen. Craig McKinley to this rank, to serve in this post, is in recognition of his outstanding leadership abilities and shows the confidence the President and I have in him to be the nation's senior Guard officer at such a critical time," said Secretary Gates.

For the full story by Master Sgt. Mike Smith of the National Guard Bureau, go here.

As I outlined in another post on the official Air Force blog, this appointment is long overdue.

With Gen. McKinley's promotion, the National Guard is no longer just a player in the game, but are also being given the opportunity to help write the playbook.

At the National Guard Association of the United States Conference, held in Baltimore, Md. in September 2008, shortly following his nomination to the post, Gen. McKinley thanked Pentagon and government leaders for the chance to lead the National Guard as a "true partner" alongside other services.

"The time has come for the National Guard to be represented at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill," he said. "Now we can sit at the table with everyone else."

The empty seat at the table has finally been appropriately filled by a deserving force.

Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard New Media Manager

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