Idaho National Guard Chief No Longer Federally Recognized

Feb 6, 2017

Gary Sayler, commanding officer of the Idaho National Guard.
Credit AP

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has said Maj. Gen. Gary Sayler will continue serving as the commanding officer of the Idaho National Guard despite no longer being the state's federally recognized adjutant general.

Otter said in an interview last week that the federal government denied his request to extend Sayler's federally recognized status in January. However, Sayler will continue leading the Idaho National Guard until the end of the fiscal year in June. Otter said he is looking for a replacement for Sayler.

This is the second time Otter has requested the federal governor for an extension for Sayler, who joined the Idaho Air National Guard in 1977, to continue serving as adjutant general. Otter's one-year request was granted in 2015. The U.S. military has a mandatory retirement age of 65 for generals, but it can be extended upon request. Sayler turned 65 in 2015.

The governor's office declined releasing the denial letter it received from U.S. Department of Defense on Jan. 6, saying the matter was a personnel issue.

"He's doing a great job, that's why I wanted him to stay on," said Otter, who appointed Sayler to the position in 2010.

Under Idaho, an adjutant general must be a federally recognized commissioned officer to be appointed to the position, but there is no state requirement for maintenance of federal recognition.

As adjutant general, Sayler is Otter's senior military advisor, commands the Idaho Army and Air National Guard, oversees the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security and is a member of the governor's cabinet.

Losing federal recognition means the Department of Defense considers Sayler as a retired military officer and he no longer travels on the federal dime. He can attend out-of-state conferences and other events under a state-recognized status.

Adjutant generals are appointed by governors in most U.S. states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.