A Janesville native who just finished a tour commanding troops in Afghanistan has a new assignment: serving the top military adviser to the president.

He has been appointed to the post of director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to a news release from the U.S. Army.

The job comes with a promotion when he begins the new assignment in February. He'll go from major general to lieutenant general, adding a third star to his uniform.

Poppas will assist the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the chief military adviser to the president and secretary of Defense, according to official descriptions of the job.

The Pentagon-based job, sometimes referred to as director of J3, includes keeping tabs on all U.S. combat operations, said John Hall, a UW-Madison professor who is writing historical studies for the Joint Chiefs.

“Only highly successful generals and admirals are selected for this position, and many J3s have gone on to positions of even greater responsibility,” Hall said.

Others who have held the job include Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, who went on to become the 16th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller, the current Marine Corps commandant, Hall said.

The job includes the translation of policy decisions from the president and secretary of defense into military guidance to combatant commanders about operations and plans, and providing “strategic guidance” to those commanders, according to a job description of one of Poppas’ predecessors.

Hall said Poppas will not advise the president, but his work could contribute to the recommendations of his boss, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a job currently held by Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.

Poppas graduated from Craig High School in 1984 and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1988.

He was a brigade commander in Afghanistan in 2010-11 and commanded a squadron of the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq in 2006-07.

Poppas’ most recent posting was commander of the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan.

His decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with Valor, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge and the Ranger Tab.


This story was corrected on Feb. 1 to reflect the following:

A story about Janesville native Andrew Poppas on page 3A Wednesday incorrectly stated his rank.

The U.S. Senate on Dec. 22 confirmed Poppas for promotion to lieutenant general in the U.S. Army, but he remains a major general until he begins his new job with the Joint Chiefs of Staff this month.

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