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First Name: Craig

Last Name: McKinley

Birthplace: Jacksonville, FL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Richard

Date of Birth: 06 May 1952

Rank: General

Years Served: 1974-2012
Craig Richard McKinley


Craig Richard McKinley

General, U.S. Air Force

Craig Richard McKinley was born on 6 May 1952 in Jacksonville, FL.

McKinley received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in 1974 as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program at Southern Methodist University. He has served in numerous assignments in flying and operations, as well as command positions at group, wing, sector and field operating agency levels. He has also served as Commander, 1st Air Force and Commander, Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Southeast Region, Tyndall AFB, FL.

On 17 November 2008, McKinley was promoted to the four-star rank of General in the U.S. Air Force. He is the 26th and current Chief, National Guard Bureau. He is the first Officer from the National Guard to ever achieve the rank of four-star General. He also joins George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant as four-star Officers who have served as state militiamen in their military career. Prior to becoming Chief, he served as the Director, Air National Guard from May 2006 to 17 November 2008.

As the Chief, National Guard Bureau, General McKinley is the senior uniformed Officer of the National Guard of the U.S., and the state National Guard, responsible for formulating, developing and coordinating all policies, programs and plans affecting more than half a million federalized and non-federalized Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel.

Appointed by the President, he serves as the principal adviser to the Secretary of the Army, Chief of Staff of the Army, the Secretary of the Air Force, and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He also serves as the principal National Guard adviser to Secretary of Defense through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on all National Guard issues. As National Guard Bureau Chief, he serves as the Army's and Air Force's official channel of communication with state governors and Adjutants General concerning state National Guards. McKinley officially retired on 1 November 2012.

General McKinley is a Command Pilot with over 4,000 flight hours, primarily in the T-38 Talon, F-106 Delta Dart, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15 Eagle. Additionally, General McKinley has been pilot in command in the C-131 Samaritan and C-130 Hercules Operational Support Airlift aircraft. He also has flight time in the T-33 and T-37 trainers.


1974 Bachelor of Business Administration degree, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX

1979 Master of Arts degree in Management and Economics, Webster College, St. Louis, MO

1984 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, AL

1990 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, AL

1995 Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy, National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC

1997 National Security Management Course, Syracuse, NY

1998 Capstone, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC

2002 Combined Forces Air Component Commander Course, Maxwell AFB, AL

2004 U.S. - Russia Security Program, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA


December 1974 - November 1975, student, undergraduate pilot training, Moody AFB, GA.

November 1975 - March 1977, T-38 Instructor Pilot, Craig AFB, AL.

March 1977 - May 1979, Equal Opportunity and Treatment Officer, Air Force Military Training Center, Lackland AFB, TX.

May 1979 - November 1980, T-38 Instructor Pilot, Laughlin AFB, TX.

November 1980 - April 1986, F-106 alert pilot, 125th Fighter Interceptor Group, Jacksonville ANGB, FL.

April 1986 - June 1987, Chief of Safety, 125th Fighter Interceptor Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, FL.

June 1987 - April 1989, F-16 Instructor Pilot, 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, FL.

April 1989 - May 1990, Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, FL.

May 1990 - May 1991, Deputy Commander for Operations, 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, FL.

May 1991 - May 1994, Commander, 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, FL.

May 1994 - June 1995, student, National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC.

June 1995 - March 1996, Commander, 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville ANGB, FL.

March 1996 - July 1996, Air National Guard Vice Commander, Southeast Air Defense Sector, Tyndall AFB, FL.

July 1996 - January 1998, Commander, Southeast Air Defense Sector, Tyndall AFB, FL.

January 1998 - February 2001, Deputy Director, Air National Guard, Arlington, VA, and Commander, Air National Guard Readiness Center, Andrews AFB, MD.

March 2001 - July 2002, Deputy Inspector General of the Air Force, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington.

August 2002 - October 2004, Commander, 1st Air Force (1 AF) of Air Combat Command, and Commander, Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, Tyndall AFB, FL.

November 2004 - November 2005, Director, Mobilization and Reserve Affairs Directorate, U.S. European Command, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany.

November 2005 - May 2006, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington.

May 2006 - November 2008, Director, Air National Guard, Arlington, VA.

November 2008-present, Chief, National Guard Bureau, Arlington, VA.

Promotion Dates

Second Lieutenant (USAF) - 18 May 1974

First Lieutenant (USAF) - 8 December 1976

Captain (ANG) - 21 November 1980

Major (ANG) - 16 May 1986

Lieutenant Colonel (ANG) - 16 May 1990

Colonel (ANG) - 28 January 1994

Brigadier General (USAF) - 28 January 1998

Major General (USAF) - 24 May 2001

Lieutenant General (USAF) - 20 May 2006

General (USAF) - 17 November 2008

Medals and Awards

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (2 Awards)

Defense Superior Service Medal

Legion of Merit

Meritorious Service Medal (3 Awards)

Air Force Commendation Medal (3 Awards)

Air Force Achievement Medal (3 Awards)

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

Combat Readiness Medal (5 Awards)

National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Humanitarian Service Medal

Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Silver Hourglass Device

Air Force Training Ribbon


Command Pilot Badge
Headquarters, U.S. Air Force Identification Badge


1974 Distinguished graduate, Air Force ROTC, Southern Methodist University

1993 I.G. Brown Trophy

2003 Distinguished Alumni Award, Southern Methodist University

2004 Combined Forces Commander, Unified Engagement 04, U.S. Joint Forces Command

Honoree ID: 786   Created by: MHOH




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