Neely installed as 40th Illinois adjutant general
By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois National Guard welcomed a new leader Friday, Feb. 15, when Air National Guard Col. Richard Neely was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and took over the reins as the state’s 40th adjutant general.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Feb. 6 that he was naming Neely to the post. He succeeds Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes, who is retiring.
“He represents the very best of what leadership and service mean in our state and he takes the helm of an exceptional National Guard, one that leads the nation in audit readiness, state partnerships, diversity and community engagement,” Pritzker said during a promotion ceremony Friday at the Illinois Military Academy in Springfield.
Neely said that his top priorities as adjutant general will be to focus on making sure units are combat ready, supporting the National Guard’s personnel and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the units.
Prior to his promotion, Neely served as group commander of the 183rd Mission Support Group based in Springfield. During his roughly 29 years of service, he has served in numerous command, staff and operational positions, both in Illinois and in Washington, D.C.
As adjutant general, Neely will serve in Pritzker’s Cabinet as director of the Illinois Department of Military Affairs. He will also be in charge of approximately 13,000 men and women in the Illinois Army and Air National Guard, including an estimated 450 who are deployed overseas
Neely, 52, grew up in Easton, about 40 miles northeast of Springfield. He is only the second Air Force officer to lead the Illinois National Guard.