Honestly, the real changes are going to be what's happening nationally. —Brig. Gen. Jefferson Burton
SALT LAKE CITY — Brig. Gen. Jefferson Burton said he doesn't expect to make any changes in how the Utah National Guard is run when he takes over as adjutant general in the fall.
"Honestly, the real changes are going to be what's happening nationally," said Burton, citing both budget cuts and reduced troop deployment now that the U.S. role in Iraq and Afghanistan is ending.
Burton said that means shifting from preparing soldiers for deployment to readiness training.
"It's going back to what we haven't done for 10 years," he said. Currently, about 700 members of the Guard are deployed, about one-tenth of the 7,000 soldiers and airmen serving around the state.
Burton was assistant adjutant general since 2007. He was named Thursday by Gov. Gary Herbert to replace Major Gen. Brian Tarbet, who is retiring after 12 years as adjutant general.
The governor acknowledged that Burton is assuming the post at a significantly transitional time for the Guard.
"We have many people coming back home," Herbert said, noting that since the 9/11 attacks against the United States, between 9,000 and 10,000 members of Utah Army and Air National Guard units have been deployed.
Tarbet, praised by the governor for his service, is the third longest-serving adjutant general in the state's history. He will have served two six-year terms in the post when he retires in September.
"He has been the first to step up and shoulder responsibilities that come his way," Herbert said. "It's not been easy. Gen. Tarbet leaves big shoes to fill."
Two years ago, Tarbet took responsibility for not being aware of a warning about dangerous weather conditions during a live ammunition training exercise at Camp Williams that sparked a massive fire in Herriman.
Tarbet said Burton will be a "leader as prepared and as confident as we've ever had."
Burton will formally assume the new post on Sept. 29 in ceremonies at Camp Williams.