JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Air National Guard chief of staff is pursuing a three-year agenda focused on ethical leadership and improved processes across the Missouri Air National Guard.
By making processes more transparent, and highlighting opportunities for the state’s more than 2,200 Airmen, Brig. Gen. Christopher Knapp has an ambitious program that will pay off long-term dividends for the Guard, said Maj. Gen. Steve Danner.
“Brig. Gen. Knapp is one of our most seasoned officers, and has an unparalleled record of success, having served in numerous overseas deployments,” Danner said. “With eight years of command time between the active duty and Guard, he knows how to lead troops. As a chief flight surgeon, nobody knows more about taking care of our service members. I know he will use those experiences to ensure the future health of our force.”
Key among Knapp’s top priorities is continued integration of the Missouri Air and Army National Guard into a truly joint force.
“There has been a sea change since Maj. Gen. Danner came on board as Adjutant General in 2009,” said Knapp, who has logged more than 1,450 flight hours and more than 100 flight hours of combat and combat support. “He emphasized force integration, which had the net result of increasing opportunities for Airmen both to further their careers and professional development, and serve the people of Missouri. Airmen were on the front lines of all three state emergency missions we had in 2017.”
As the Chief of Staff for the Missouri Air National Guard, Knapp will formulate and execute executive support functions for the adjutant general and assist in coordination of joint force headquarters activities. He will oversee joint military functions and direct joint military program operations as well as serve as the senior Air Force advisor in the joint force.
Continuing to foster an environment where Airmen are encouraged to develop personally and professionally is a key objective for both himself and the Air staff, Knapp said.
“People join the National Guard because they want to be better – they want to improve not only their communities, but themselves,” Knapp said. “As leaders, it is contingent upon us to ensure we are making those opportunities a reality.”
Education is a key incentive for Airmen, Knapp said. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Guard’s State Tuition Assistance Program, which benefits hundreds of Airmen each year as they pursue college degrees.
There are also opportunities for growth militarily, Knapp said. Through discussions with the Adjutant General, Knapp said there would be continued process improvements in boards and job opportunities to ensure fairness.
“The Missouri Army National Guard has done an amazing job the past few years of making their processes more transparent and fair,” Knapp said. “State Command Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Hamlett and I are already working with State Command Sgt. Maj. Will Pierce, the senior Army enlisted advisor, to ensure our processes are equally effective.”
There are many new opportunities on the horizon in the cyber domain, and Knapp said he would work with state and federal leadership to bring more cyber positions to Missouri. Another area of interest is the State Partnership Program with Panama, which sponsors subject matter expert exchanges between Missouri and Panama.
“The National Guard has three missions – the war fight, supporting homeland defense, and promoting partnerships throughout the world,” Knapp said. “Over the past few months, our Air staff has established a strategic plan to ensure Missouri is meeting and exceeding standards.”
Knapp is now responsible for the formulation of long and short-term strategic plans, and developing and coordinating senior leadership response to higher headquarters directives. He will also furnish guidance to headquarters staff and wings.
“Headquarters’ role is to act as a force multiplier – to support our wings and units, and empower them to do great things,” Knapp said. “I am looking forward to working with Col. Ed Black and his team at the 139th Airlift Wing and Col. Kenneth Eaves at the 131st Bomb Wing. At home and abroad, these wings set the standard.”
Knapp’s military awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious
Service Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters, Aerial Achievement Medal, Antarctica Service Medal, Armed Force Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with bronze service star, and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
In his civilian career, Knapp is the medical director and occupational medicine physician at Gateway Regional Medical Center in Granite City, Illinois.