Gov. Bruce Rauner today announced he has appointed Brig. Gen. William P. Robertson as Acting Director for the state’s Emergency Management Agency.
“I’m confident Gen. Robertson’s decades of leadership experience in both wartime and domestic operations will ensure IEMA continues to fulfill its critical public safety mission,” Rauner said.
Robertson has more than 37 years of experience with the Illinois Air National Guard. He serves as the Chief of Staff for the Air National Guard, where he is responsible for ensuring combat readiness and mission capability for the 126th Air Refueling Wing at Scott Air Force Base, the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, and the 183rd Wing in Springfield. He was Commander of the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria from August 2004 until October 2017.
“It is an honor and privilege to be chosen to lead the state’s emergency management efforts, but, even more so, it is a tremendous responsibility,” Brig. Gen. Robertson said. “Every agency within Illinois, at every level of government, has a responsibility for planning for emergencies and when needed, responding quickly and effectively. Being at the center – coordinating those efforts – is vitally important and a ‘no fail’ contract we hold with the people of Illinois. I look forward to joining an outstanding team of professionals at IEMA and continuing the great work this agency does for the citizens of Illinois.”
Robertson began his military career in 1980 by enlisting as a security policeman with the 182nd Tactical Air Support Group. He later became a pilot and served in many roles, including forward air controller, air liaison officer and aircraft commander. Brig. Gen. Robertson has more than 20 years of command experience.
During Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Robertson served as commander of the 486th Air Expeditionary Wing Operations Group.
Robertson was trained by FEMA and the U.S. Northern Command as a Dual Status Commander (DSC). During a multi-state disaster or national event, a DSC may serve in both federal and state roles to facilitate joint response.
He also has played a key role in the Illinois Air National Guard’s support of the Polish Air Force’s transition to the C-130 “Hercules” aircraft as well as facilitating the use of other mission capabilities of the 182nd Airlift Wing for the Polish Armed Forces.
Robertson has received more than a dozen military awards, including the Legion of Merit (with oak leaf cluster), the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
A Peoria native, Robertson earned a B.S. in criminal justice from Bradley University and an associate degree in police science technology from Illinois Central College. He is a graduate of Air War College and the Air Command and Staff College.
“I want to express my appreciation to Jennifer Ricker for her leadership as IEMA’s Acting Director over the past two months,” Rauner said. “Her nearly decade-long experience as IEMA’s chief of staff enabled her to not only keep the agency moving forward during this transition period, but to also lead the state’s response to support communities across the state as they battle and begin recovering from the recent floods.” Ricker will remain with the agency.