WASHINGTON Craig McKinley will retire as the head of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) at the end of the year, the trade group announced Monday.

A search team has been set up to find his successor, with advisory firm Korn Ferry leading the hunt.

"After 42 years in the Air Force and leading associations that serve as conduits for collaboration between government and industry, the time is right to transfer leadership of NDIA to a new generation and shift my focus to a series of personal and philanthropic endeavors," McKinley said in a statement released by the trade group. "I look forward to working closely with the NDIA Board of Directors as we search for and transition to my successor, and will continue to provide counsel and guidance in issues impacting our defense and national security."

A retired four-star US Air Force general, McKinley served as head of the National Guard from 2008 to 2012, before retiring out of the service. He then took over as president of the Air Force Association, leaving that post for the NDIA job on January 1, 2015.

Before McKinley took over, NDIA was headed by retired Gen. Larry Farrell, who held that post since 2001.

One of the key Washington voices for the defense industry, NDIA boasts 1,600 member companies, 27 nationwide chapters, 36 divisions and 85,000 individual members. 

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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