Gov.-elect Sanders selects Stubbs, Penn to top state military posts

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,044 views 

Gov.-elect Sarah Sanders announced Wednesday (Jan. 4) her intention to nominate Brigadier General Jon Stubbs as Secretary of the Military and The Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard, and Major General Kendall Penn as the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Penn now holds the title of Secretary of the Military, while he will replace Nate Todd, the Veterans Affairs secretary.

“I will be appointing two high-caliber individuals with decades of military experience who will lead with honor and integrity – BG Jon Stubbs as The Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard and Major General Kendall Penn as the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Sanders said. “BG Stubbs’ extensive Army National Guard experience makes him a clear choice to lead the Department of Military as The Adjutant General, ensuring our airmen and soldiers are standing at the ready to support the state of Arkansas and our nation. Major General Penn has done an excellent job leading our Department of Military, which is why I have asked him to continue to serve and take on the critical role of Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Together, we will ensure that the brave, selfless men and women who have served our country in uniform are always cared for and supported.”

“It is a great honor to be nominated by Governor-elect Sanders to lead our Arkansas Air and Army National Guard as The Adjutant General,” Stubbs said. “My 27 years in uniform with the Arkansas National Guard and current role as Deputy Director for Operations, Readiness, and Mobilization at the Pentagon has fully equipped me to ensure our Arkansas National Guard is always ready to rise to the defense of our state and nation. My family and I are thrilled to be returning home.”

“Our veterans have made countless sacrifices for our freedom, and I am honored to join the Sanders Administration and serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs,” Penn said. “Governor-elect Sanders shares my tremendous respect for our veterans and intention to ensure they have access to benefits, care, and support. I look forward to working with her to make Arkansas the most veteran-friendly state in the nation.”

Stubbs began his military career in 1993 upon enlistment in Company A, 4-117th Infantry Battalion in Lexington, Tenn., as a private first class (PFC). In 1995, he was commissioned as an Infantry officer after completing Officer Candidate School as the Distinguished Graduate at the Tennessee Military Academy.

Stubbs is a career Army National Guard officer and has spent more than 27 of his 29 years in uniform with the Arkansas Army National Guard. He has held every leadership position within the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) from rifle platoon leader (2nd Lieutenant) to brigade commander (Colonel). Stubbs led Company C, 3-153 Infantry during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) II in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2004-2005 and served as the 39th IBCT operations officer in OIF VIII in Baghdad in 2008.

He also served as an Active-Guard Reserve (AGR) officer in the Arkansas Army National Guard from 1997 to 2021. In September 2021, Stubbs was selected for promotion to brigadier general and assigned as the vice director for Operations at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va. In January 2022, Stubbs was assigned as the deputy director for Operations, Readiness, and Mobilization at Headquarters, Department of the Army, the Pentagon.

He is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Infantry Captain’s Career Course, the Combined Arms Services and Staff School, all phases of the Command and General Staff College, the resident U.S. Army War College (Class of 2013), the Brigade Pre-Command Course, and the Advanced Strategic Education Program for brigadier generals. His civilian education includes a bachelor’s degree in history from Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn., and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the USAWC at Carlisle Barracks, Pa.

His decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Valorous Unit Award, 2 awards of the Legion of Merit, two awards of the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, 6 awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, 8 awards of the Army Commendation Medal, and various other individual and unit service awards.

Penn assumed duties as the Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard on Aug. 23, 2019. He is a member of the Governor’s Cabinet and is responsible for commanding the Arkansas Air and Army National Guard, with nearly 10,000 Soldiers, Airmen, and state employees. As Adjutant General, Penn is responsible for the day-to day operation and management of the readiness, fiscal, personnel, equipment, and real property resources of the Department of the Military and ensures the training readiness of all personnel to accomplish both state and federal missions.

Penn began his military career in 1982 upon enlistment in Company B, 212th Signal Battalion of the Arkansas Army National Guard. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry upon graduation from the Reserve Officer Training Corps Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1985.

He served in a variety of command and staff assignments in the Active Army and the National Guard. This included commander of 1st Battalion, 153rdInfantry where he deployed to Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and later as commander of the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also deployed to Baghdad. He was appointed as the Assistant Adjutant General for Arkansas and concurrently as Deputy Commanding General for Operations, 1st Army Division East at Fort Meade, Md., upon receiving federal recognition as a Brigadier General of the Line on March 20, 2010.

In 2011, Penn was selected as the Deputy Commanding General for Operations for First U.S. Army stationed in Rock Island, Ill., where he oversaw the readiness and training for National Guard and Army Reserve units mobilized and preparing to deploy into combat. He was promoted to Major General in March 2013.

Penn’s awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge, and the Ranger Tab.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the United States Army War College.