MADISON, Wis. — For the first time in five years Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers will have a new senior enlisted advisor to advocate their concerns and issues with the Guard’s top leaders.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde relinquished his role as the Wisconsin National Guard’s state command sergeant major to Command Sgt. Major Curtis Patrouille during an Apr. 11 change of responsibility ceremony at Madison’s Joint Force Headquarters.
Brig. Gen. Joane Mathews, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army, highlighted the legacy of policies and programs Conde leaves behind as well as his leadership philosophies that shaped the organization.
“Regardless of the issue or the policy, he always focused on the Soldier,” said Mathews.
A general theme of camaraderie rang through each speaker’s remarks.
“Not only has Command Sgt. Maj. Conde represented the Wisconsin National Guard, but he has represented the Guard nation as a whole,” stated Command Sgt. Major John Sampa, the senior enlisted advisor for the Army National Guard at National Guard Bureau, while commending Conde’s involvement on a national-level enlisted leader advisory board.
One of the most important roles of a state command sergeant major is to advise the commander and be a sounding board on issues both professional and personal.
“In my opinion, a battle buddy is someone who mirrors your drive, focus, determination, stated Mathews about how she considered Conde both as a valued advisor and friend. “They are someone you can talk to and will take care of you.”
Conde reflected on a Soldier’s potential to positively impact the military and asked the audience to consider the quote by former President John F. Kennedy, which states that we must not ask what our country can do for us, but what we can do for our country.
“I think that Soldiers and Airmen need to think less about what the military can do for them and more on what they can contribute to the military,” stated Conde.
Conde, who left communist Cuba with his family when he was five, retires with 38 years of service in the Minnesota and Wisconsin Army National Guard. He has served as a command sergeant major at the battalion and brigade level before becoming the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s eighth state command sergeant major in 2016.
Mathews presided over the passing of the non-commissioned officer’s sword to symbolize the transfer of the position and invited Patrouille to address the audience.
“I can honestly say that it’s not by my accomplishments that I am standing up here but by all of the accomplishments of those I served with over the past 35 years,” stated Patrouille.
Patrouille joined the Wisconsin National Guard in 1986 and served as the command sergeant major of the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation and later as the senior enlisted leader of the 64th Troop Command. For the past year he has been the senior enlisted advisor to Joint Task Force-64, which is the main element supporting the Wisconsin National Guard’s on-going COVID-19 response mission.
The state command sergeant major is a senior advisor to the commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard for a variety of matters related to policies and actions affecting the command’s enlisted personnel who make up approximately 90 percent of the Army Guard’s approximately 7,300 Soldiers.
These Soldiers are the present and the future of the Wisconsin National Guard and it’s the state sergeant major’s role to advocate policies that serve that future.
“For me, it is the question of how we influence the organization to make it better for the next generation,” stated Conde.
Patrouille passed on a similar message when he offered a quote by painter William H. Johnson.
“If it is to be, it is up to me,” stated Patrouille.
Sampa reflected that senior leaders like Conde and himself will soon step aside for the next generation.
“It is going to be up to all of you as our future leaders,” said Sampa.