General Joseph L. Lengyel, USAF
Chief, National Guard Bureau
Joseph Lauren Lengyel was born in 1959 in the Northeastern United States. He was commissioned to the United States Air Force through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at North Texas State University where he earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry. He would later receive an MBA from the University of Tennessee. In addition, he took many other courses relating to his military experience.
A command pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours primarily in F-16s, he began his flight training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, with tactical training in New Mexico and Florida. He served as an instructor pilot and flight examiner. He commanded a number of groups, including the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group out of Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. He served the Pentagon as Military Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Programs. He was Vice Commander of the 1st Air Force, and served as a defense attaché to the U.S. Central Command in Cairo, Egypt.
Lengyel served four years as the Vice Chief at the National Guard Bureau in Washington, and in August 2016 was named Chief.
In the News…
At a Pentagon briefing, Air Force General Joseph L. Lengyel, head of the National Guard Bureau, reported that about 2,000 members of the reserve force have been mobilized at the request of governors in 27 states to help in the fight against the corona virus outbreak. That number could quickly double, he said.
“We expect the total number of guardsmen activated will increase rapidly as test kits become available and as the situation unfolds,” he told reporters.
While there has been talk of President Donald Trump issuing an order to “federalize” the Guard, Lengyel argued forcefully for leaving it to governors to call on the Guard as needed. In part, he said, that’s because the posse comitatus law prevents the federal government — but not the states — from using the military for policing functions.
“It’s a much more efficient system” to have the Guard at state level, he said. He added that activating the Guard at federal status, known as Title 10, would cost “billions and billions of dollars.” Under state status, the National Guard can assist police on patrols and enforce civilian laws. Currently, they are helping states respond to the outbreak, supporting medical testing facilities, and assisting with disinfecting and cleaning common public spaces.