Kansas National Guard adjutant general nominee David Weishaar said Thursday during a Senate confirmation hearing it was impossible to predict with precision the military engagements or human disasters faced by troops under his command.
Weishaar, a brigadier general with 39 years in uniform, did promise to respond to those emerging realities by relying on three core ideals.
“They are best faced with timeless principles of earned trust, full transparency and dedicated leadership,” he said.
The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee unanimously recommended the full Senate confirm Gov. Laura Kelly’s nomination of Weishaar. He’s been assistant adjutant general and the Kansas Air Guard’s top officer under Lee Tafanelli, who is retiring as a two-star general and the state’s adjutant general on March 31.
Weishaar entered the Air Force in 1981 as an aircraft maintenance specialist. In the past 15 years in the Air Guard at McConnell Air Force Base, he commanded the 184th Intelligence Wing, the 184th Mission Support Group, the 299th Network Operations and Security Squadron and the 127th Command and Control Squadron.
Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, said he was impressed Weishaar started as a low-level enlisted member of the Air Force and was on the threshold of serving as the Kansas National Guard’s top officer.
“You’re really from the ground up,” Masterson said. “A guy that’s been in the trenches and come from the bottom to the top. Guys with that kind of experience, though it’s not traditional, you understand then the position of those guys at the bottom.”
Tafanelli, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback nine years ago, said he was honored to have led soldiers, airmen and civilians “who work tirelessly to keep you, your families and your neighbors safe.”
He said 290 Kansas Guard personnel were deployed around the world, including the 169th Combat Sustainment Support Brigade providing logistics in the southern half of Afghanistan. Other units of the Kansas Guard returned this past year from deployments in southwest Asia and elsewhere, he said.
“Increased operational demand on our service members has also increased the demand on their families and employers,” Tafanelli said. “In recent years, this demand has made it difficult to recruit and retain the talent needed to fill our ranks.”
The agency’s rehabilitation and repair budget hasn’t kept pace with the need to upgrade Kansas Guard facilities built in the 1950s, he said.
Sen. Bud Estes, a Dodge City Republican and chairman of the committee, said he appreciated willingness of Tafanelli to assist a family eager to have their son, deployed by the Kansas Guard, return to the United States before his mother passed away. With help from the American Red Cross and Tafanelli, Estes said, it happened.
“The next day, they flew that kid home,” said Estes, who has battled medical challenges of his own and became emotional telling the story about Tafanelli. “It showed the qualities of this man.”