The Senate confirmed Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson as the next chief of the National Guard Bureau on Monday.
Hokanson is expected to be promoted to the rank of four-star general and replace Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in early August. Lengyel has served as chief of the NGB since August 2016.
“This is an important and pivotal time in the history of our National Guard. We face complex, dynamic missions overseas and here at home,” Hokanson told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a hearing on June 18. “The next chief of the National Guard Bureau must continue to effectively navigate this unprecedented landscape and work closely with stakeholders at the international, federal, state, and local levels.”
Currently serving as director of the Army National Guard, Hokanson has also served as vice chief of the NGB and deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command.
In his new position, he will be responsible for the domestic response and combat preparedness of more than 450,000 national guardsmen in the Army and Air National Guard. The chief of the NGB is also a senior military adviser to the president, secretary of defense, and National Security Council.
In his June 18 testimony, Hokanson mentioned priorities for the National Guard including enhancing cyber capabilities, ensuring adequate manpower and training, and maintaining interoperability with active duty components and allied nations.
Hokanson graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1986, serving active duty in air cavalry, attack helicopter, and aircraft testing positions before joining the Oregon National Guard.
The confirmaiton of Hokanson means the Trump administration has shaped military leadership for at least three to four years to come, Jim Golby, a former special adviser to two vice presidents with 20 years of service in the Army, noted in a tweet.
Hokanson’s confirmation comes at a time when the National Guard is seeing unprecedented levels of domestic activation to respond to COVID-19, civil unrest, and natural disasters. In May, more than 46,000 National Guard professionals were supporting COVID-19 response missions. In addition, more than 40,000 more were supporting civil unrest response at the peak of protests that broke out after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer, according to prosecutors.
As of July 15, nearly 32,000 National Guard members were supporting domestic operations across the nation at the direction of their governors — including support to COVID-19, civil disturbance, and natural disaster missions such as floods and wildfires. according to the NGB. Another 37,000 were engaged in overseas operations, according to the NGB.
High levels of activation aren’t expected to slow anytime soon. Hurricane season, typically the Guard’s busiest time of year, has only just begun, and officials expect 30 percent more storms than average this year.
Harm Venhuizen is an editorial intern at Military Times. He is studying political science and philosophy at Calvin University, where he's also in the Army ROTC program.