Maj. Gen. James Eifert was named Tuesday to take command of the Florida National Guard, which is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct within the ranks that go back a decade.
In announcing Eifert as his appointee, Gov. Ron DeSantis said if the allegations reported by the Tampa Bay Times are factual, Eifert is “the guy that’s going to clean it up.”
As part of the federal National Guard Bureau, Eifert is currently the Air National Guard assistant to the commander, Pacific Air Forces, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Before his March 2017 appointment to that post, he spent two decades in Florida, the final four years as an assistant adjutant general in St. Augustine. He also was the commander of the 125th Fighter Wing in Jacksonville.
As DeSantis’ adjutant general, Eifert will replace Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun, who is retiring from leading the 12,000 airmen, soldiers and civilians who make up the Florida Guard. The change of command will occur Saturday at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center in Clay County.
“What I really needed in this position is someone I knew would demonstrate leadership,” said DeSantis, a U.S. Navy veteran.
Part of that leadership will be delving into investigations reported by the Times alleging that senior commanders “have actively concealed evidence of sexual misconduct and other violence committed against soldiers of the Florida National Guard.”
Calhoun said Tuesday he takes “all the allegations seriously,” but couldn’t comment further because it’s an ongoing investigation.
DeSantis took a stronger tone.
“That’s not something that would be acceptable under his leadership, that’s crystal clear to me,” DeSantis told reporters on Tuesday. “Hopefully, it will be determined that some of this stuff doesn’t have merit. But if it does, I’m confident that action would be taken.”
Eifert said he isn’t familiar with the allegations but doesn’t intend for the investigation to lag.
“It will obviously be a significant priority for me as soon as I take command,” Eifert said. “But until we get some more information on the conduct of the investigation, then we’ll have to stand by and see what we learn.”
Eifert, who received his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy, flew operational fighter tours in the F-4 and F-15 before joining the Hawaii Air National Guard in 1991.
In 1992, he led the first-ever Air National Guard F-15 combat mission policing the Northern Iraq no-fly zone during Operation Provide Comfort.