Metro-East News

Roger That: Rauner appoints new Illinois Air National Guard commander


Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed Brig. Gen. Ronald E. Paul, of Springfield, to serve as the full-time Assistant Adjutant General of the Illinois Air National Guard upon the retirement of Maj. Gen. William Cobetto, of Hillsboro.

Paul is deployed overseas in support of United States Southern Command. Upon his return, he will be the full-time commander of the approximately 3,000 Illinois Air National Guard airmen serving under Illinois National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes. Hays now commands both the Illinois Army National Guard and the Illinois Air National Guard.

“For 27 years, Ron Paul has led airmen at home and during contingency operations around the globe,” Rauner said. “He has clearly demonstrated his ability to lead and build partnerships across agency lines.”

Paul graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1988, earning a bachelor of science degree in international affairs. He served in the U.S. Air Force in various operational units, including in Europe, Tactical Air Command/Air Combat Command, Air Force Materiel Command, and Pacific Air Forces. He transitioned into the Illinois Air National Guard’s 183rd Fighter Wing in 2001.

The U.S. military has ordered its nearly 3,500 troops stationed in Iraq to reacquaint themselves with their chemical weapons suits due to evidence the Islamic State has obtained chemical weapons and used them on multiple occasions, according to Fox News.

“It is a precautionary measure,” a defense official told Fox News, acknowledging the order.

During a briefing Thursday, the Pentagon would not publicly confirm the order but reassured reporters that the military is prepared to handle a chemical attack by ISIS

Defense officials recently confirmed that a “mustard agent” was used by ISIS against Kurdish Peshmerga forces in a mortar attack on Aug. 11 in the northern Iraqi city of Makhmur, located southwest of Erbil.

The Defense Department announced Thursday that up to 900 mostly Air Force dependents were being offered voluntary evacuations from the Incirlik airbase in Turkey, which the U.S. began using last month to conduct airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, according to

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook did not point to any specific threats made against the huge Incirlik base, where about 5,000 U.S. personnel are stationed, but said the action was being taken “out of an abundance of caution” as unrest spreads in the region.

The unemployment rate for veterans dropped to a seven-year low in August, and the rate for Iraq and Afghanistan war-era veterans fell to the lowest level since federal officials started tracking that population, according to Military Times.

The news came the same day that Bureau of Labor Statistics officials announced the national unemployment rate in August had dropped to its lowest level since 2008, before President Obama took office.

The bureau said the unemployment rate for all veterans fell to 4.2 percent in August, a drop from 4.7 percent a month earlier and from 5.6 percent a year ago. The monthly mark hasn’t been that low since May 2008.