Senate Confirms McKinley as Guard Bureau Chief
By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
Special to American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 3, 2008 The Senate confirmed Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig R. McKinley yesterday to receive his fourth star and to serve as the 26th chief of the National Guard Bureau.
The Senate has confirmed Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig R. McKinley to receive his fourth star and to serve as director of the National Guard Bureau. Air Force photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
McKinley, the current director of the Air National Guard, will become the first four-star general in the nearly 372-year history of the National Guard.
Nominated for the post in September by President Bush, McKinley will succeed Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, whom the Senate also confirmed yesterday to become the first National Guard officer to serve as deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command. Blum has led the Guard Bureau since 2003.
As chief of the National Guard Bureau, McKinley will be the senior uniformed officer representing nearly 468,000 citizen-soldiers and -airmen. He will also serve as the principal advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on National Guard issues.
"I give all the credit for [this promotion] to the performance, friendships and relationships of [Blum]," McKinley said Sept. 22 at the National Guard Association of the United States conference in Baltimore. "Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum has been a fantastic chief of the National Guard Bureau.”
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recommended McKinley for the upgraded four-star position in July following the recommendations of the Commission on the Guard and Reserves and the fiscal 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. The act also established the Guard Bureau as a joint activity of the Defense Department.
"General McKinley has earned this place in history," Gates said during the NGAUS conference. "I trust he will continue to lead the Guard to new heights."
A Florida National Guard member, McKinley has served as director of the 107,000-member Air National Guard since May 2006. Prior to that, he served as assistant deputy chief of staff for plans and programs at Air Force headquarters. He is a command pilot with more than 34 years of military service.
The last Air Force general to serve as Guard Bureau chief was Lt. Gen. Russell C. Davis, who held the position from 1998 to 2002.
A date has not been set for McKinley’s promotion and assumption of office, bureau officials said.
(Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith serves at the National Guard Bureau.)