Ok, so a few days ago I was informed about this news article appointing Chaplain Daniel Krumrei as the next Adjutant General for the state of Illinois:
My first thought was “Good for him,” but upon further reflection, I think it’s a bad idea, and an honor that CH Krumrei should’ve declined. AR 165-1, titled “Army Chaplain Corps Activities,” is the governing document for all Army/National Guard chaplains. Paragraph 3-1e states quite clearly that a chaplain has no command authority. This is echoed in AR 600-20 (para. 2-16c) and both documents refer back to Title 10 U.S.C. § 3581, which states that “A chaplain has rank without command.”
Chaplains, by the nature of their job, religious specialists and staff officers. As the above references make clear, we are prevented from holding command billets and cannot accede to command others even if/when we’re the only officer present. We advise the commander on many different matters, but we do not make command decisions.
In addition, most are not qualified for command billets, since their years of military experience don’t involve dealing directly with command/leadership issues. I might be an exception to this rule, since I spent many years as a Marine Corps officer, but I know that those days are behind me and that any command experience I’ve had hasn’t kept pace with my former peers.
So presumably, CH Krumrei will have to relinquish the title “Chaplain” and take off his crosses in order to accept this position. Which probably won’t be a problem, since general officers don’t wear branch insignia anyways. Even so, it would seem to be a strange position to be in – going from non-combatant status for the past 20 years to suddenly commanding the state’s militia.
Also, there is the question of professional competence. I don’t know what Krumrei did in the Guard from 1977-92, or whether he was enlisted or an officer at that time, but that would’ve been the last time he ever held a leadership position – over 20 years ago. I’m sure he’s well-suited for any type of administrative role – and others have argued that that is largely the function of an Adjutant General – but there have arisen times in the recent past where National Guard troops have been called up to deal with riots, disasters, and other emergencies where the use of force may become necessary.
I can’t speak to the approval process for him to accept such a position through the Chief of Chaplains office, or whether he’ll step down from his pastorship and revoke his ecclesiastical endorsement, but I know the storm I would face if I decided to branch transfer back into artillery! I’ll admit that there’s many elements to this story that I don’t know – and probably never will – but on the face of it it seems to be setting a bad precedent to appoint someone who has dedicated such a large portion of his military career to providing religious support to such an elevated command billet.