ARLINGTON, Va. – Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson took the reins as director of the Army National Guard in a ceremony Friday at the Herbert R. Temple Army National Guard Readiness Center, Arlington Hall Station in Arlington, Virginia.
Outgoing director, Army Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, is set to become the vice chief of the National Guard Bureau, pending Congressional confirmation.
"I've watched [Lt. Gen. Kadavy] work hard for the United States Army, work hard for the Army National Guard," said Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, who hosted the ceremony. "He did a great job."
Hokanson served as the NGB's vice chief prior to taking on his new duties as director of the Army Guard.
"Dan [Lt. Gen. Hokanson] has trained his whole life to be here and to know everything about the Army National Guard, to know everything about the joint force, to know everything about the National Defense Strategy to come here and make the biggest contribution we can as the operational combat reserve of the United States Army," said Lengyel.
A 1986 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Hokanson served in the active component as a helicopter pilot and took on a variety of leadership roles before transitioning to the Oregon Army National Guard in 1995.
"[He is] an academy graduate, deployed to Panama, deployed to Iraq, led a brigade in Iraq, led a brigade in Afghanistan. He's done all that and had the strategic jobs," said Lengyel.
Hokanson served as the adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard as well as the civil affairs officer and then deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command.
But, he said, he's looking forward to the challenges ahead as director of the Army Guard.
"Gen. Lengyel, I want to personally thank you for allowing me to serve as the 21st director of the Army National Guard and for all I have learned from you over the past three-and-a-half years as your vice," Hokanson said during the ceremony. "I am sincerely humbled by this incredible opportunity and look forward to continuing to serve the Soldiers, civilians and families of our Army National Guard."
For Hokanson, many of those challenges are very different from what were faced in the past.
"As the Army Guard approaches its 383rd birthday later this year, I cannot help but notice our ties to that history," he said. "From the first muster in 1636 to today, our world has seen an incredible transformation and the introduction of new frontiers never imagined by those who gathered that December day in Salem, Massachusetts."
But many things remain the same.
"With all the changes nearly four centuries have brought with them, what has made the National Guard great remains the same – that's our people," Hokanson said, adding that close to 30,000 Army Guard Soldiers are currently deployed worldwide.
"Nearly 5000 more are directly supporting homeland defense and emergency response missions [ at home]," he said. "Our units compose 39% of the Army's operational force and we'll continue to engage across the full spectrum, performing our missions of homeland defense, [supporting the] warfight and building partnerships."
Hokanson said one of his primary focuses as director is to provide support for the Soldiers of the Army Guard.
"For all of us here in the Army Guard directorate, we must continue to do everything we can to support Soldiers and their formations throughout the 54 [states, territories and the District of Columbia]," he said.
But, he said, it's the leaders and commanders of the Army Guard who ensure success and mission completion.
To our leaders and commanders at every level, thank you," he said. "Your leadership and dedication, your selfless service directly contributes to our readiness and lethality and ensures mission success."
Those leaders also take on one of the most important roles in the Army Guard, said Hokanson.
"You are charged with one of our greatest responsibilities, to manage our talent and develop the next generation of leaders who will take our places and continue to serve and protect our states and nation," he said. "This awesome responsibility cannot be taken lightly."
And with that, Hokanson said it was time for him to get to work in his new role.
"I'd like to share the simple observation that people may not remember what you say, but they will never forget what you do," Hokanson said. "It's time for me to get to work with all of you to support the 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia and ensure our nation's Army National Guard remains Always Ready, Always There."
Lengyel added that Hokanson is certainly up to the task.
"I think he's going to be a great director of the Army National Guard," he said.