LINCOLN — Nebraska's new adjutant general is taking over as the Nebraska National Guard faces a transition into an era of fewer deployments.
Brig. Gen. Daryl L. Bohac, who was named Monday to replace Maj. Gen. Judd Lyons, said one of his first goals would be searching for ways to keep members engaged in meaningful activities.
He said he was concerned that Guard members could start feeling less sense of purpose as deployments wind down and the active military handles many jobs previously handled by the Guard.
“Over 60 percent of our members have joined since 9/11,” Bohac said. “What they have experienced is this high operational tempo. How do we maintain that edge? How do we maintain those skill sets for when they're needed next?”
He said he fears retention — one of the areas in which the Nebraska Guard traditionally excelled — could suffer if the challenge is not met.
More than 10,600 Nebraska National Guard members deployed to active duty from 2002 through the end of December, according to Maj. Kevin Hynes, a Guard spokesman. Most served in Iraq, Afghanistan or the Balkans or were supporting the U.S. missions in those areas.
Some were deployed multiple times.
The peak year was 2006, when more than 1,500 Nebraska Guard members were deployed. As of Monday, only about 30 members were on deployments.
Bohac said his work is part of the national effort to rethink the military and the balance of active-duty and reserve troops.
One possibility might be to have Guard members rotate into places such as South Korea, instead of relying solely on active-duty troops, he said.
Bohac said he has not seen a sense of letdown among Guard members, although he noted that it has been only about eight months since the number of send-off and welcome-home ceremonies has dropped off.
Bohac deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar in support of the war in Afghanistan from December 2008 until May 2009.
He also has been deployed in support of operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Gov. Dave Heineman said he chose Bohac, a Nebraska native and 35-year military member, from among three candidates.
He said Bohac has a distinguished service record that includes having been both a traditional and full-time Nebraska National Guard member and having served with both the Army and Air Guard.
“He understands the challenges our National Guard faces and he cares about our military personnel and their families,” the governor said.
Bohac, 52, will be promoted to major general and receive command of the Nebraska National Guard from Lyons during a ceremony Sunday.
As Nebraska's adjutant general, he will lead the more than 4,600 Air and Army personnel in the Nebraska National Guard. In addition, he will be a member of the governor's Cabinet and director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.
“I'm excited by the opportunity, and I'm inspired by those same men and women who serve both in the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the Nebraska Army and Air National Guard,” Bohac said.
Bohac has 31 years of service in the Nebraska National Guard. He has most recently served as the assistant adjutant general.
He began his career in 1978, serving first as an enlisted member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves' 4th Engineering Maintenance Company in Omaha and later in the Nebraska Air National Guard's Vehicle Maintenance Branch of the Lincoln-based 155th Resources Management Squadron.
He received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Nebraska Air National Guard in 1988 after being named a distinguished graduate of the Air Guard's Academy of Military Science.
A Malcolm native, Bohac earned three degrees from the University of Nebraska, culminating with a doctorate in clinical psychology in 1994.
He will be paid $101,522 annually, the same salary that had been slated for Lyons, who has been promoted to deputy director of the Army National Guard.