Brid. Gen. William Burks named leader of Nevada National Guard | NevadaAppeal.com

Brid. Gen. William Burks named leader of Nevada National Guard

STEVE RANSON
Nevada Appeal News Service

Brig. Gen. William Burks, a native Nevadan and 32-year member of the National Guard, was named Tuesday as the state’s 29th adjutant general by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

He replaces Maj. Gen. Cynthia Kirkland who relinquished her command on Saturday. Her four-year appointment that coincided with her retirement became effective Monday. Burks assumed command Tuesday, but an assumption-of-command ceremony will be scheduled later this summer.

“Here, I have a Nevada guardsman like none other,” Gibbons said, “Not only has he been a Nevada guardsman since the day he enlisted, but he has also seen combat, is a decorated war hero and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.”

Gibbons said Burks, who has been the director of the Joint Staff of the Nevada National Guard since 2007, also has extensive military management experience.

“When Gov. (Kenny) Guinn appointed Gen. Kirkland as the state’s first female adjutant general, he set the stage for military change here in the Silver State,” Gibbons said. “I humbly thank her for her service and dedication to the state and the nation. And, now that I have the opportunity to appoint her successor, I want to continue and expand that change momentum with Gen. Burks. There is no one better suited to use his experience, his contacts and his understanding of the Washington defense system to expand our National Guard operations and facilities across Nevada.”

The qualifications for adjutant general are set forth in Nevada law. He or she must be a Nevada guardsman with at least six years of service in the state’s militia.

Both commanders of the Army and Air Guards in Nevada are praising the selection of Burks to the state’s highest military position, which acts as the governor’s military chief of staff.

“This is great for the Guard,” said Brig. Gen. Frank Gonzales, commander of the Army Guard. “His contacts at NGB (National Guard Bureau) at Washington, D.C., will add a lot.”

Burks spent 11 years working in various positions both at the National Guard Bureau and the Pentagon. Prior to his return to Nevada two years ago, Burks was chief of staff of the Air Force Quadrennial Defense Review Office.

“He will help us at the national level and help the (Nevada) Army Guard get great results in D.C. with the new force structure,” Gonzales said.

During the past two years, the Army Guard in Nevada has increased by 30 percent in personnel strength.

“He is the best person to get the job. He’s very level-headed,” Gonzales said.

Brig. Gen. Robert Fitch, commander of the Air Guard, has worked alongside Burks.

“I’ve been associated with him since he came back to the state,” Fitch said.

“He will provide the leadership to take the Nevada National Guard to another step. He has all the credentials, knows Nevada and how things work back there (Washington, D.C.).”

Both Burks and Kirkland, who is on vacation with her family, were unavailable for comment.

Burks grew up in Reno, attended Wooster High School and graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in accounting. He is also a licensed certified public accountant. He also holds a master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the National Defense University.

Burks’ military career with the Nevada Air National Guard began in 1977 when he was selected to attend navigator training for the 152nd Tactical Reconnaissance Group in Reno. After being commissioned as a second lieutenant, he earned his navigator wings at Mather Air Force Base, Calif., and weapons system officer rating at Shaw AFB, S.C., in 1978.

He is a master navigator with more than 2,000 flying hours and is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Storm with 29 combat sorties.