Professional development for the quiet professionals

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Chief Warrant Officer Gary Ensminger, the Command Chief Warrant Officer for the National Guard speaks to warrant officers of the Kentucky Guard at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., Sept. 7, 2013. The warrant officers gather for their annual professional development conference to discuss the state of the warrant officer in the Kentucky National Guard. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

GREENVILLE, Ky. — Warrant officers from every corner of the Commonwealth gathered at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center, Sept. 7-8 for the chance to add more knowledge to their expertise. ┬áMore than 100 Kentucky Guardsmen were there to attend an annual Warrant Officer Professional Development Conference.

“We hope this weekend that everyone can leave with a better understanding of training requirements, school requirements and recruiting requirements they need to become better warrant officers” said State Command Chief Warrant Officer James Simms. “We have warrants in Paducah, we have warrants in Ashland and they never see each other, but they have the same job, so this is the chance to bring them together to talk about improvements that could be made.”

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Adams, Chief of the Joint Staff for Kentucky visited the warrant officers and reminded them that they are the quiet professionals.

“The Warrant Officer Corps is a small group, but a professional group,” said Adams. “You are the ones that keep the organization running right at the speed we need it to run.”

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Chief Warrant Officer James Simms, Kentucky’s State Command Chief Warrant Officer speaks to warrant officers at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., Sept. 7, 2013. Simms stressed continued education to those in attendance, a key to a successful career as a warrant officer. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

The Kentucky Army Guard has around 140 warrant officers in its ranks and Simms said it is very hard to get all of them together at one time.

“We have 80 to 85 percent of all of our warrants here this weekend,” he said. “With deployments, attendance at advanced courses and some mission requirements, there’s a few that cannot make it, but we have guys here from every command, so they will take back the knowledge to those not here.”

Chief Warrant Officer Gary Ensminger, the Command Chief Warrant Officer for the Army National Guard made the trip to Kentucky to get feedback personally from Kentucky’s warrant officers. He said it’s his goal to gather questions and concerns to take back to the National Guard Bureau for the benefit of the Corps as a whole.

Also in attendance for the weekend was Chief Warrant Officer Douglas Englen, Regimental Standardization Officer for the 160th Special Forces Aviation Regiment from Fort Campbell, Ky.

Simms said the the guest speakers represented the outside components and their participation can give Kentucky an idea of what issues warrant officers around the whole Army are dealing with and how they are solving them.

“We have 140 different personalities to deal with, and each one has their own opinion because they are a warrant officer,” said Simms. “And each one of them think they know what right looks like. It is my job to get all those ideas together for the common good.”

The weekend offered the chance for the Soldiers to get to know one another and also to break-out into individual commands to discuss how things are going within each major command of the Kentucky Guard.

It was a first time experience for newly commissioned Warrant Officer Leah Pedicone with the 103rd Chemical Battalion. After 16 years in uniform, most recently as a military police officer, Pedicone decided to become a warrant officer.

In August, she graduated as the first female Warrant Officer for the Kentucky Guard as a chemical technician.

“I was approached about becoming a warrant officer and that was a great privilege,” she said. “Its a great opportunity for experience and to push the envelope and stretch the limits of the Chemical Corps.”

“I really didn’t know what to expect, but this weekend is pretty exciting,” said Pedicone. “I think this is a good chance for us to learn what our role is and to ensure we are all on the same page.”

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