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NEWS | April 8, 2024

Michigan Army National Guard Ignites Leadership Growth at Annual Officer Symposium

By Capt. Cammy Alberts and Staff Sgt. Dustin Stewart

The Michigan Army National Guard recently hosted its annual Officer Symposium at the Grand Ledge Armory, emphasizing leadership development. This event, crucial for ongoing officer recruiting efforts, aimed to equip current and potential Michigan Army National Guard members with essential tools and resources for becoming a commissioned officer or warrant officer.

This year's symposium, seeking to fill over 100 commissioned officer and warrant officer positions, reflects a year-round effort to attract and nurture talent, underscoring the organization's commitment to cultivating a leadership pipeline that remains robust and responsive.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Allen Robinson, the Michigan National Guard State Command Chief Warrant Officer and a driving force behind these initiatives, emphasized the vital role of the symposium. "Every year we try to advertise and recruit to our needs. We try to put something on every year to bring in people that meet the qualifications to have success in these programs," said Robinson.

The well-attended event gathered a diverse group of candidates from various military ranks, sharing a common interest in advancing their military careers. Senior officers provided insights into commissioning, covering aspects such as education and medical history. 

Spc. Paula Shields, a soldier assigned to the 126 Theater Public Affairs Support Element out of Augusta, Mich., contemplating the next steps in her military journey, reflected on her decision to explore leadership opportunities. "I am approaching the end of my first contract, and I had to weigh out what I wanted the rest of my life to look like after, and I decided that I would like to stay in. I figured if I’m going to stay in, I want to make the most of my military career now, so I’d like to pursue leadership and see what I can gain from that experience," expressed Shields. Her sentiment echoed the aspirations of many others in the room, individuals who recognize the potential for personal and professional growth through leadership roles.

The Officer Symposium, a longstanding tradition in the Michigan Army National Guard, has contributed significantly to the success stories of numerous soldiers who have taken on commissions as officers and warrant officers. The event serves as a platform for soldiers to explore diverse military careers and speak to leaders currently serving in those roles.

Educating for Success
"This event is important because for the Soldiers in attendance, it is crucial to educate them on what opportunities are available to them so they can make the most of their time in the Michigan Army National Guard,” said Maj. Malorie Stephens, officer strength manager with the Michigan Army National Guard at the Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing, Mich. “The Officer Symposium educates soldiers on how to become an officer, what to expect as an officer, and benefits from becoming an officer. Whether they are looking for career advancement, developing leadership skills, civilian marketability, or new challenges, this event provides insight into how they can achieve those goals as commissioned officers or warrant officers. I believe educating new officers at the beginning
of their career positively impacts retention later.”

Stephens highlighted the importance of events like the Officer Symposium to assist the Army National Guard in boosting personnel strength numbers as well as retention of current soldiers interested in continuing their service in the Army as officers. “This event is our largest recruiting event of the year.  National averages over 160 officer and warrant officer vacancies at any given time, which limits our units’ ability to fully execute their missions and impacts the welfare of their subordinates.”

Investing in Leadership Today for Tomorrow’s Strength
Beyond the immediate goal of filling officer positions, the symposium reflects the broader vision of the Michigan Army National Guard —leadership development, career advancement, and creating a resilient and adaptable force. The organization's commitment to officer recruiting is not merely transactional but deeply rooted in the understanding that investing in leadership today ensures the strength and capability of the Michigan Army National Guard for years to come.

“We are also looking ahead - we are recruiting the future leaders of the Michigan Army National Guard,” said Stephens. “We want to provide all interested candidates the tools to be successful with the end goal of producing a competitive officer corps that develops well-rounded, high-quality senior leaders of a strong and proud organization committed to serving the communities we live in and ready to defend our nation overseas.“
As the Michigan Army National Guard continues to uphold its tradition of excellence, events like the Officer Symposium strengthens its force and enriches the lives and careers of those who choose to answer the call to leadership in service to their community and nation.

For more information about the Michigan National Guard, visit