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NEWS | Oct. 28, 2022

Command Chief Warrant Officers change over

By Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Crane, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

Leadership of the warrant officer corps switched hands during a change of responsibility ceremony in the rotunda of the capitol building Oct. 28.

Command Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dwight D. Harlan relinquished the responsibility over Kentucky’s warrant officer corps to the Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ricky L. Skelton.

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As the CCWO, Skelton will be in charge of overseeing the nearly 200 warrant officers in the Kentucky Guard, the Warrant Officer Candidate Accession Program and the Warrant Officer Candidate School.

Established in 1999 by the National Guard Bureau, the Command Chief Warrant Officer is the senior warrant officer in the state. He serves as the personal advisor to the Adjutant General and his staff on all issues pertaining to policies, programs, and actions impacting the warrant officer corps including accessions, assignments, professional development, morale, discipline, performance, strength and recruiting programs. The Command Chief Warrant Officer also coordinates warrant officer issues with the National Guard Bureau, the Warrant Officer Senior Advisory Council, and the Branch Proponents of the Army.

As Harlan steps away, handing off the job to Skelton was something he takes pride in since the two have been good friends for a long time.

“We have pushed each other through the years to be our best," said Harlan. “We've been peers our whole career since he came to the Kentucky National Guard. He's been good counsel and we've talked a lot about fixing the problems of the warrant officer world on many occasions so felt very comfortable with him taking the reins because he knows it like the back of his hand."

Ironically, it was Skelton’s idea that Harlan should apply for the position of Command Chief Warrant Officer. So it’s fitting that Skelton will be stepping into the position after his friend.

The two men have been major influences in each other’s lives throughout their careers. None more important than when Harlan, who got the opportunity to go to Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) in Fort Rucker before Skelton went.

“We had had a colleague go before us who decided that it wasn’t for him and came back home halfway through the course,” said Harlan. “He (Skelton) told me, ‘you’re never going to live this down if you come home without finishing.’ So I had that voice in the back of my head the whole time pushing me anytime I wanted to quit.”
Harlan was able to repay the same favor when Skelton got his chance to go to WOCS though.

“I told him, ‘you know I did this, so if you don’t make it through, you’ll never live it down,” laughed Harlan. “So it’s been fun having that kind of relationship with him.”

For Skelton, he is ready for the challenge to fill the shoes his friend is leaving behind.

“It’s exciting, but at the same time, it's a lot of responsibility,” said Skelton. “I'm looking forward to it though.”

His main goal for himself as he takes over his new position is to get the warrant officer corps strength to 100 percent and build a bench to fill the positions when others retire.

Skelton is thankful for the opportunity to lead and grow the force.

“I truly appreciate their support," he said. “Let's do what we can to continue to keep the legacy going."

Skelton will be the seventh CCWO for the Kentucky National Guard.

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