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FORT MCCOY, Wis. — The 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team held a change of responsibility ceremony May 15 at the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, formally welcoming new Command Sgt. Maj. Joel Rothbauer.

With more than six years as the 32nd Infantry Brigade’s senior non-commissioned officer, Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde relinquished responsibility to Rothbauer. Conde will officially begin his duties as the next command sergeant major of the Wisconsin Army National Guard in June.

“It’s truly an honor today to take over from a great friend of mine,” Rothbauer said.

sm160515-Z-OB094-063.jpgConde and Rothbauer became friends while drilling in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, together in 1985 shortly after Rothbauer enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard.

“I would like to thank Command Sgt. Maj. Conde for being a mentor throughout my career,” he said. “Who would’ve known that a couple E4s out of Eau Claire would make it this far?”

Conde said the most rewarding part of being the command sergeant major for the 32nd is when Soldiers say to him, “You were a guiding force for me and that is how I got to where I am today.”

In his remarks, Conde said he believes that all Soldiers should strive to be the best Soldiers they can be.

“No matter what your job is in the Army, you have to do it to the best of your ability,” he said.

The change of authority comes shortly before the 32nd Infantry Brigade begins its annual training period in June at Fort McCoy, where Rothbauer is looking forward to getting his first chance to exercise his leadership style as the brigade’s senior enlisted Soldier.

sm160515-Z-OB094-145.jpg “It’s a great responsibly to take care of the welfare of the Soldiers, leading by example and doing what is right,” he said. “I hope I can stand up to that and be the great leader that they deserve.”

“The Red Arrow Brigade has a strong lineage and a proud history,” he added. “I am humbled and honored to be part of its future as command sergeant major.”

Conde will follow Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Shields as the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted advisor after serving in that role for the 32nd since 2010. Conde took over as brigade command sergeant major just months after nearly 3,500 Soldiers from the 32nd returned from a historic deployment to Iraq in 2009-10. During his tenure, the 32nd Infantry Brigade deployed more than 65 Soldiers with the 32nd Military Engagement Team and 32nd Base Defense Operations Center, demonstrating its aptitude in fulfilling the National Guard’s role as the Army’s primary combat reserve.

The brigade also completed a major combat readiness training validation exercise and re-instituted Expert Infantry Badge testing.