As a former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has a few words of advice for Duane “Dak” Kees.

Kees, a U.S. Army major and most recently the director of Global Ethics and Compliance at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Bentonville, was sworn in Jan. 5 as the new U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas by U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III. Kees was nominated in September by President Donald Trump on recommendation from U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

Speaking to the Times Record following a virtual reality tour of the U.S. Marshals Museum on Friday, Hutchinson said he spoke with Kees shortly before the official confirmation by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 20.

The governor said the importance of cooperation between federal and state law enforcement agencies was important to success.

“That was what brought us success with so many of our investigations through history, and while I was U.S. Attorney,” Hutchinson said. “Without that partnership we can’t be successful."

Hutchinson also said Kees can look forward to relationships with the other U.S. Attorneys.

“There’s only 93 U.S. attorneys in the country,” Hutchinson said. “There’s fewer U.S. attorneys than senators.”

The governor was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and served as a U.S. attorney from 1982 to 1985. Hutchinson listed some of his U.S. Attorney contemporaries as Jeff Sessions, current U.S. Attorney General, as well as former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliana, and Frank Keating, former governor of Oklahoma.

“He’s going to do a great job,” Hutchinson said of Kees. “He’s got good judgment. It’s a very heavy responsibility and it’s increasing in responsibility.”

In a statement issued Jan. 5, Kees said he was “honored and excited to begin serving the people of Arkansas as U.S. Attorney for the Western District” and that he was grateful to Boozman and Cotton for their support.

“I look forward to working with law enforcement to ensure the safety of the citizens of Arkansas,” Kees added.

The Western District of Arkansas includes six divisions and 34 counties within Arkansas. Its primary office is in Fort Smith. Kees will oversee a staff of 41 employees, including 21 attorneys and 20 non-attorney support personnel.

The office is responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the district, including crimes related to terrorism, public corruption, child exploitation, firearms, and narcotics. The office also defends the United States in civil cases and collects debts owed to the United States.

Born in Little Rock, Kees is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and University of Arkansas School of Law. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2001 and rose to the rank of captain while earning numerous awards and decorations.

During his military career, Kees served as a legal assistance attorney, trial counsel, brigade judge advocate and senior defense attorney. Kees is serves with the Arkansas National Guard at Camp Robinson in Little Rock.

Kees succeeds Kenneth Elser, who had served as acting U.S. Attorney since Conner Eldridge’s resignation Aug. 21, 2015.