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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Guardsman takes over as command chief warrant officer for the Army National Guard

CW5 Panos ARLINGTON, Va - During his career, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Peter Panos, the command chief warrant officer for the Army National Guard, has seen the Army Guard and the warrant officer corps transition frequently, but he said Soldiers should be proud of what the Army Guard is today

"I think overall, the Army National Guard is the most professional, tactically and technically versed in our history," said Panos, who took on the responsibilities of command chief Feb 23, 2015

As the Army Guard continues to transition from more than a decade of war, Panos said he has four priorities for warrant officers

"The first and foremost is retention," he said

"We're getting quality Soldiers and keeping our standards high, but yet we're still declining in overall strength," Panos said of the warrant officer corps "Over the last three years Mr Ensminger, the previous [command chief warrant officer], did a phenomenal job in trying to find out why that was happening"

"It's not pay and bonuses it's really challenge and opportunity Are we challenging the Soldier? Do we give them the opportunity to advance, and just to have some satisfaction in their job?" he said

Panos said challenging Soldiers has been easy during the past 12 years of continuous operations, but continuing to challenge them will be more difficult

With the drawdown, the Army Guard is going to enter a period of training, and then waiting for a mission, and it will be challenging for senior leaders to keep Soldiers engaged, Panos said, adding that change will be a big one for Soldiers who have only served during the past 14 years, he said

"It's going to be a challenge and we have to meet that challenge," he said "It can be done; we just have to get creative"

But retaining Soldiers is just one side of the coin, Panos said, adding that military education - another of his priorities - will be important for advancing those warrant officers' careers

"Military education is another big concern for a lot of warrants, especially now with our money getting tight," he said "As our money gets tighter, we have to make some hard decisions on who's going to get that training and who we are going to select to go to school"

It has to be relevant training to what a warrant officer does, Panos said

"So, it's making [professional military education] relevant, accessible, and also being realistic as to when you're going to go and enabling warrant officers to really take charge of their careers," Panos added

For Panos, military education is important, but mentoring is another way for warrant officers to learn from those senior to them

"When I was a young warrant officer, I had great mentors," he said "I think we have gotten away from that over the last 12 years, and that's why one of my big pushes is to go back to where the senior warrant officers really do look for the opportunity to take the junior warrant officer under their wings and say 'let me show you how to do this, let me give you advice on advancing your career'"

To effectively shape the future of the warrant officer corps through mentorship, education and retention, Panos said communication would be the most important of his priorities

"That's communication between the 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia on what issues my office can help them with and what can the [staff here] help them with to make them successful and help them meet the adjutants general strategic goals and objectives," he said

Communication and strategic advice are how Panos said warrant officers assist other senior leaders in mission and organizational success

"As we go through this period of change from 12 years of war to now, maintaining ourselves as a strategic force and working through this some of our challenge is going to be changing the culture," he said

"However, every Soldier and especially warrant officer, should be proud of where we are at in our history because we are at our best right now and I hope we can continue that," he said

March 6, 2015
by Staff Sgt Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

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