Vermont National Guard Logo News
News | Aug. 10, 2021

Vermont adjutant general shares organizational assessment results

By Don Branum Vermont National Guard Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. Greg Knight sometimes says that as Vermont’s adjutant general, he knows a little about a lot, but he knows a lot more now about organizational assessments than he did when he first took over the role two years ago.

“I didn’t even know this thing existed as an option until I was speaking with my counterparts at National Guard Bureau and going through some of the things I wanted to get done in my role as adjutant general,” Knight said during a media roundtable with local reporters Aug. 6. “One of the Vermont Guard officers who was on orders at NGB said, ‘Have you considered asking for us to come up and do an organizational assessment?’”

To learn more about what makes up an organizational assessment, Knight spoke with Lt. Col. Gonzalo Pinacho, who was the judge advocate general at the time. As part of an assessment, NGB sends a team from the Office of Complex Investigations to thoroughly examine the state of an organization, including its climate and culture.

“He told me, ‘You understand this is going to be released to the public? You understand this is going to be the warts-and-all version of it? You understand they may find things that we have to take action on?’” Knight recalled. “I’m good with it. That’s why I asked for it. I just don’t know any other approach to get at that.”

So Knight requested the assessment, the first conducted for the Vermont National Guard. 

“Either a governor can ask, or an adjutant general can ask,” he said. “If the governor’s asking, then the adjutant general probably doesn’t have a job. I’m not going to allow it to get to that point. I think it’s a good metric for us, and a good place to start.”

Knight asked for the report in 2019, and the OCI Team gathered information between January and April of 2020. The national COVID-19 response, leadership turnover at NGB, and Operation Capitol Response all slowed the publication of the report, but by late May 2021, Knight had a draft copy.

“I found it to be sufficient in draft form,” Knight said. While the report contained a couple of inaccuracies, he said they weren’t significant enough to delay publication of the final report.

 “Having this, at long last ... it’s a positive development for us,” he said. “We’re going to follow the recommendations in the report, conduct interim progress reviews, and continue to communicate with the assessment team and the public on the progress that we’re making. I think I own that.”

The report outlined 35 recommendations along five lines of effort. Those recommendations, along with summarized findings and the Vermont National Guard’s response, can be found at

“There are some things we can do pretty quickly: making policy changes, aligning with regulations. Those are easy,” Knight said. “The bigger challenge will be to look at staffing deficiencies at JAG, full-time employment deficiencies within the State Equal Employment Manager’s office or within the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator’s office. Those take resources, which take funding, and in the end are certainly going to take time.”

One of the challenges in addressing the assessment is the joint nature of the Vermont Guard, Knight said.

“We have one chain of command in the Vermont National Guard ... or do we? If we look at our Sexual Assault Response Program, every service does it differently,” he said. “It’s two different services, so I have to rely on my subordinate commanders and my subordinate staff to make sure that communication is as seamless as we can make it.”

Communication within the organization is one of the adjutant general’s major focuses, in part because the organizational assessment identified it as an area needing improvement. Among the OCI Team’s recommendations is for the Vermont Guard to “develop solutions that create transparency across the organization and establish regular communications and conversations with Airmen and Soldiers about the overall state of the VTNG.”

“I think we’ve seen some inroads there,” Knight said. “We’ve gotten folks who are a little more comfortable coming forward. I’ve tried to be more visible, as have other senior leaders.

“We have to get people more comfortable helping us make the organization better,” he continued. “We have to get out of the mindset that there’s going to be some kind of retribution if you share information with me. My only goal here is to make the organization better.”

Brig. Gen. David Manfredi, the director of joint staff, said transparency also plays a role both in establishing trust and eliminating perceptions of a “good old boy network.” The Vermont Army National Guard has established an Officer Career Management Plan with annual boards held in August, has taken steps to communicate promotions to NCOs and Soldiers, and has established competency-based hiring for civilian positions in accordance with Office of Personnel Management requirements.

“If people know how things are working, and people understand through communication and consistent execution, that will get after some of the perceptions of a good old boy network,” Manfredi said. “We’ll gain trust in both the processes and the leaders.”

Knight said he’s also looking into improving professional development within the Guard.

“We’ll embark soon on what I call the next generation of professional development. That doesn’t need to be in a schoolhouse; it doesn’t need to be a large, one-off, time-consuming event,” Knight said. Instead, it will be focused on specific tools, such as issuing letters of reprimand, pulling rank, or forfeiting pay, that commanders can use in place of commander directed investigations.

In addition, Knight said he will charge the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, which has undergone changes to its command and team makeup since the report was compiled, to focus on “production recruiting,” or getting new Soldiers and Airmen into the Guard. Knight added that he would like to see the Vermont Guard marketed toward service members who still have a service commitment and who could be enticed into moving to the Green Mountain State.

Knight didn’t comment on whether other Guard units should undertake similar assessments, but he said he plans to share the report with other adjutants general.

“I’m not going to sit on this. I’m going to send this to my counterparts to take a look at it,” he said. “If we’re deficient in areas, then in all likelihood, they’re going to have some similar areas to focus on. We’ve got nothing to hide. I think we’re just going to make the Guard better overall.

National Guard News
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, adjutant general of the California National Guard, and California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis watch a demonstration of tactical equipment during a visit to the California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Air National Guard Base, California, Sept. 2, 2021. The California National Guard and Ukraine have been partners under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program since 1993.
National Guard Supports Armed Forces of Ukraine
By Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes, | June 8, 2022
ARLINGTON, Va. – Pinned down by a Russian tank and armed with only a failed anti-tank missile, a Ukrainian soldier recently turned to an unlikely source as the most effective weapon available — his cell phone. On the other...

New York Air National Guard Airmen assigned to the 109th Airlift wing deployed to Greenland in support of Exercise Polar Reach May 11-27. The Airmen worked with the Canadian Royal Air Force and the Minnesota Air National Guard to test the capabilities of its Polar Camp Skiway Team.
NY, Minnesota Airmen Hone Ice Runway Construction Skills
By Tech. Sgt. Jamie Spaulding, | June 8, 2022
STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. – Ten Airmen assigned to the 109th Airlift Wing deployed to Greenland to support Exercise Polar Reach May 11-27.The exercise, a joint international training event conducted by the 109th...

Members of the 166th Airlift Wing Security Forces Squadron transport a simulated wounded team member during an exercise at the New Castle Air National Guard Base, Del., June 6, 2022. The exercise, a part of Operation Gemini, ensures Airmen are trained and mission ready at all times. (Modifications were made to enhance the subject through color correction, cropping and exposure correction.)
Delaware Air Guard Demonstrates Readiness in Graded Exercise
By Senior Airman Brandan Hollis, | June 8, 2022
NEW CASTLE, Del. – After years of preparation, the 166th Airlift Wing performed the Air Mobility Command graded exercise Operation Gemini to demonstrate its Total Force Readiness and ability to operate overseas.The exercise...

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher White, 315th Fighter Squadron commander, deployed to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, prepares an F-35A Lightning II aircraft for takeoff, June 3, 2022. Members of the 158th Fighter Wing are in Europe to support NATO’s ongoing air policing mission to deter aggression and assure allies and partners in the region.
Vermont Guard Pilot Reaches 1,000-hour Milestone a 3rd Time
By Maj. Meghan Smith, | June 8, 2022
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. – U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher J. White, the 315th Fighter Squadron commander assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing, Vermont Air National Guard, reached his 1,000th flight hour milestone in the F-35A...

Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief, National Guard Bureau, testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense, during the National Guard and Reserve posture hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington June 7, 2022.
Continued Investments Make Guard Effective, Chief Says
By Air Force Master Sgt. Erich B. Smith | June 7, 2022
ARLINGTON, Va. – The chief of the National Guard Bureau told senators June 7 that continued investments in the National Guard mean it will be able to effectively support the Joint Force while quickly responding to the needs...