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MILWAUKEE – If the Wisconsin Army National Guard was a major-league baseball team, it would be trying to bolster its roster by calling up hot prospects from its farm system.

And on a recent Saturday at Miller Park, those prospects consisted of 30 noncommissioned officers – major-leaguers in their own right – who converged for an Officer Candidate /Warrant Officer Candidate Symposium.

“We have to realize [the importance of] that relationship – the relationship between the warrants, the NCOs and the commissioned officers,” said Lt. Col. Michael Murphy, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. “We are one unit working together to get the mission done.”

Officers and warrant officers perform different functions in the military. Officers often begin in a leadership role at the platoon level and may command a company or larger element as well as serve in staff duty positions that support a higher command officer. Warrant officers are regarded as highly specialized professionals who operate, maintain, administer and manage the Army’s technical systems, support activities and equipment at all command levels.

Murphy – an OCS graduate himself – highlighted the benefit of officers with enlisted experience and how that experience positively impacts the officer/noncommissioned officer leadership dynamic.

That’s an argument that may carry weight with Sgt. Ava Kielisch of Company C, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion. Her demonstrated leadership qualities resulted in recommendations to consider becoming an officer on the day she was promoted to sergeant.

“I wanted the enlisted time as a sergeant,” she explained, “working with the troops more before [becoming an officer.]”

Kielisch was undecided whether to pursue the officer or warrant officer route, and attended the symposium to help reach a decision.

Murphy said he hoped the symposium would attract more candidates to the state’s officer and warrant officer schools. The Wisconsin Army National Guard presently has 11 candidates attending Officer Candidate School; the Warrant Officer Candidate Program anticipates having 12 candidates this year, which would be the most for a single class at the Wisconsin Military Academy.