Governor Tony Evers swore in the new adjutant general of the Wisconsin National Guard on March 5.
Brigadier General Paul E. Knapp was officially promoted to the rank of Major General by the governor, who is the commander-in-chief of the Wisconsin National Guard, during a ceremony in the governor’s office with members of his family present as he assumed the duties of the adjutant general.
As adjutant general, Knapp is the commander of the 10,000 Soldiers and Airmen of the Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard. He is also responsible for Wisconsin Emergency Management, Wisconsin’s Office of Emergency Communications, and serves as Wisconsin’s Homeland Security Advisor.
“It was an honor to preside over Brigadier General Knapp’s promotion to Major General, and it was an honor to welcome him to his new role,” said Governor Evers. “Major General Knapp is a proven leader who I am thrilled to have leading the National Guard and the Department of Military Affairs at this critical time.”
Knapp is a 1992 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, where he earned a bachelor of science. He also holds a master of science degree from the University of Maryland. He is a native of Antigo, Wisconsin, and currently lives in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin with his wife, Dr. Renee Knapp, and their two children.
“I am humbled and honored by Governor Evers’ confidence in me, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to lead the Soldiers and Airmen of the Wisconsin National Guard as well as the men and women of the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs, Wisconsin Emergency Management, and the Office of Emergency Communications,” Knapp said. “It is a great privilege, and I look forward to serving the agency, our National Guard, and most importantly, the people of Wisconsin.”
After commissioning as an active duty Air Force officer in 1992, Knapp served as a Special Agent for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations prior to attending navigator training. He served two operational tours as an F-15E Strike Eagle weapon systems officer and one as an air liaison officer to the U.S. Army in South Korea. He separated from active duty in August 2003 and joined the 95th Airlift Squadron of the 440th Airlift Wing, General Mitchell Air Reserve Station, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, flying the C-130H Hercules. Knapp has served as an Instructor, Evaluator, Flight Commander, Squadron Commander, Deputy Operations Group Commander and Vice Wing Commander. He has over 3,000 flying hours, including 681 combat hours, and 262 combat sorties supporting operations Allied Force, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.
The appointment of Knapp filled a vacancy created by the resignation of Major General Donald Dunbar in December. Governor Evers called for the resignation after a top-to-bottom review of the Wisconsin National Guard detailed system failures in its handling of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and retaliation allegations.
A nation-wide search was conducted to find a successor. On January 17, 2020, an expert panel of current and retired military officers, including the adjutant generals of Georgia and Maine, interviewed applicants and recommended finalists to Governor Evers.
Knapp succeeds Brigadier General Joane Mathews and Brigadier General Gary Ebben who both took turns serving as interim adjutants general since the beginning of the year. Ebben, who previously served as the deputy adjutant general for Air, has since retired, while Mathews will revert to her position as the deputy adjutant general for Army.
With the ceremony, Knapp officially began his tenure as Wisconsin’s adjutant general, which marks the beginning of a five-year term in the position. The Wisconsin National Guard is planning a formal assumption of command ceremony and will announce those details at a later time.