He represents a small percentage of the force, but as the new command chief warrant officer of the Army National Guard, Gary Nisker, has the huge task of looking out for the interests of the corps.
A 38-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Nisker serves as the primary advisor to the director of the Army Guard on issues that relate to the Guard's warrant officer corps of 9,000. They make up roughly 2.5 percent of the Army Guard's 350,000 Soldiers, and they are highly regarded for their abilities as technical managers, trainers and leaders.
"I'm absolutely confident that we got the right guy for the job," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard, who handed a saber over to CW5 Nisker during a change of responsibility ceremony Feb. 25 at the Army Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Va.
"This is indeed a tremendous honor," said Nisker. "I have gone much further than I ever envisioned possible."
Having his finger on the pulse of thousands of warrant officers is not a task all his own. The Warrant Officer Senior Advisory Council, consisting of the command chief warrant officers in the 54 states and territories, keep Nisker up-to-speed as a direct line of communication to the Army Guard director.
"I still need to get out and touch the warrant officers in the field, and ask them how they are, what's right, what's wrong and how we can make them more viable to the missions," he said. "I try to get out as much as I can to do that."
Roughly 48 percent of the Army Guard warrant officers are helicopter pilots; the remaining 52 percent are assigned to about 40 different careers, ranging from Special Forces to network managers to food services.
“[They are] the tactical and technical experts in a specific field," said Nisker.
He said a large percentage of aviators are now eligible to retire, but choose to stay in as long as possible because they enjoy their service.
Nisker's own career included multiple deployments and assignments, which eventually led to the cockpit.
His father, an Air Force C-124 Globemaster II aviator, was killed in Vietnam when Nisker was 11 years old. Despite that, he’s wanted to be a pilot since childhood.
In 1972, Nisker joined the Army and followed multiple assignments on the advice of career managers that they would eventually lead him to flight school. Just as he was about to get out of the military in 1978, he was offered his first aviation assignment with the 25th Infantry Division (Light) divisional air cavalry squadron in Hawaii. He flew the OH-58 Kiowa, the AH-1 Cobra and the UH-1 Huey helicopters.
After Hawaii, he had consecutive rotations at Camp Humphries in Korea.
Nisker's last regular Army assignment was with the VIP flight detachment at Libby Army Airfield in Fort Huachuca, Ariz., where he was an airfield maintenance officer and deputy airfield commander.
He then joined the California Army Guard in 1985. Since that time, he has served in aviation management, operations, systems and other positions for the Guard.
In 1994, Nisker accepted an assignment at the National Guard Bureau. He then served as West Virginia's command chief warrant officer and returned to NGB as an executive officer.