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McKinley Tapped to Lead NGB: Defense Secretary Robert Gates is recommending Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig McKinley, currently director of the Air National Guard, to be the next chief of the National Guard Bureau. Gates made the announcement during a Pentagon press briefing July 16, saying, "General McKinley is well qualified for this important and historic assignment." If confirmed, McKinley would be the first officer to lead the National Guard as a four-star general under a provision sealed with the 2008 defense authorization bill. McKinley, who has led the Air Guard since May 2006 and has served in the Air Force for 34 years, would replace Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum as NGB chief. Blum has served in that role since April 2003. In a message to Guard units, Blum wrote: "This is truly a historic and magnificent selection. Craig will provide the leadership that will take the National Guard to the next level." (Includes AFPS report by Jim Garamone)