WOCS, NGAUS, and developing your career

By Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Smith
Command Chief Warrant Officer

The annual National Guard Association Conference was held April 28-30 in Wichita. Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Lockhart was recognized as the 2017 Warrant Officer of the Year. Lockhart entered the KSARNG in 2015 and is currently assigned as the WOCS course manager at the 1st Battalion, 235th Regiment.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Smith
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Smith

During the NGAUS Conference, attending warrant officers were given an opportunity to hear from Chief Warrant Officer 5 Richard Kunz, command chief warrant officer at Headquarters, Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, who spoke about changes within the warrant officer community, and warrant officer professional development and its curriculums and instruction.

A key discussion centered on recruiting talented Soldiers to become warrant officers. The warrant officer is one of the hardest positions to fill, primarily because of the amount of experience, technical expertise, and documented leadership that is required to even be able to apply for candidacy. Our goal is to identify those top-performing noncommissioned officers within specific military occupational specialty and ask them to take a large step in their career to become a warrant officer. If you have recently thought about taking that next step, I strongly urge you to consider this opportunity.

With the arrival of spring came the start of the fiscal year 2017 State Warrant Officer Candidate School course in Salina. WOCS kicked off with a “Zero Phase” in March, which was designed to familiarize candidates with course expectations and information as they prepared to enter Phase II of training.
Phase II began on April 7 with nine candidates enrolled in the course. Once the candidates successfully complete Phase II, they will finish Phase III, the last portion of WOCS, at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. Upon graduation of Phase III, candidates will be reintegrated into their units as the National Guard’s newest warrant officers.

Warrant officers need to understand the importance of Professional Military Education and need to make sure they stay on top of their future. If you are currently enrolled in a distance learning course and waiting to attend the residence course, I urge you complete the distance learning course as soon as you can. I’ve been receiving e-mails and phone calls from various school houses asking to see if any KSARNG Soldiers would be able to fill last-minute cancelations. By completing your distance learning course sooner instead of later, you have greatly increased your chances to get to a school you need before it becomes a necessity and holds up your career.

As leaders, many warrant officers have been asked what makes them successful and how they positively influence other Soldiers to follow them. For me, a method that has been successful has been the “F-R-O-G” method — Family, Recreation, Occupation, and Goals. As long as you keep these topics at the forefront of your mind as you’re working with Soldiers, it is easy to learn where their values lie and determine what gives them motivation.

Ultimately, interacting with Soldiers using this method will ensure leaders know their Soldiers better, and by doing so, they will be enabled to practically apply Soldier care on a daily basis.

On July 15, there will be a Warrant Officer Call in Salina at a location to be determined. This event will coincide with WOCS and our current candidates will be in attendance so they may meet some of their counterparts who are currently operating within their warrant officer MOS. The next morning, following the Warrant Officer Call, the candidates will formally be presenting their song and sign, and I would ask that you make every effort to be present. There is a great team building event and every effort placed into this presentation each has really done an outstanding job.

In closing, please remember that no matter where you’re at in your military career, you did not get to this point alone. Mentorship is one of the key factors for our success, so please don’t forget to pass it down.