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What does an Adjutant General do?

By Nicholas K.
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An adjutant general is a official within the military responsible for allocating personnel and resources on behalf of an individual unit or army. Adjutant generals are also tasked with maintaining records for military personnel including registration, evaluation, and discharge documents. This term also refers to the top military figure in a regional force such as the state National Guard in the United States. Regional adjutant generals coordinate with political leaders to organize forces in case of natural or man-made disasters, terrorism, invasion, and overseas conflicts.

The adjutant general of the United States Army is given the rank of Lieutenant General with similar ranks in other military services. This rank places the adjutant general directly beneath the Army Chief of Staff, a position responsible for overseeing administrative concerns for the military. Adjutant generals are typically considered the Assistant Chief of Staff and carry out day-to-day operations on behalf of the Chief of Staff. These operational duties include shifting personnel, ensuring sufficient space for transferred soldiers, and assessing equipment needs in case of active operations.

Individual divisions and battalions within an army may feature adjutant generals to organize limited resources. This official works with the divisional chief of staff to assess munitions, emergency supplies, and food reserves. These resource assessments are shared with adjutant generals in other units in the region to avoid inefficiencies. An adjutant general in an army division coordinates with the army’s Adjutant General Corps to arrange personnel transfers, discharges, and training. Additional responsibilities for an adjutant general include training officers for human resources and administrative positions within the Chief of Staff’s office.

Adjutant generals oversee recordkeeping processes regarding personnel moves and advancement throughout the army. This oversight includes review of registration materials and personnel evaluations for clarity, accuracy, and completion with personnel employed by the Chief of Staff's office to sort through high volumes of incoming documents. An adjutant general also handles storage of sensitive materials including discharge papers for enlisted personnel and officers. In many military organizations, these records are increasingly being digitized although printed documents remain in storage to protect against computer hacking.

Appointed by the governor in most cases, the U.S. National Guard places the adjutant general at the head of each state National Guard unit. As of January 2011, 54 Adjutant Generals were in charge of units in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. These military leaders may also receive orders from the President of the United States and the Joint Chiefs of Staff when operational assistance is needed at home and abroad. Adjutant generals in the U.S. National Guard stay current on the needs of personnel under their command with events hosted by the Adjutants General Association of the United States.

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