Senior enlisted leader brings traditional Guard perspective to key position
Story by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
COLUMBUS, Ohio (03/13/20)
There’s a new top noncommissioned officer in town, and that goes for both Soldiers and Airmen of the Ohio National Guard. Command Sgt. Maj. William Workley is the first senior enlisted leader for the ONG, appointed last fall by Maj. Gen. John C. Harris, Ohio adjutant general.
“It’s going to be a work in progress,” Workley said about the relatively new position. “We’ll be building the airplane in flight. Each state is going to do it differently, just like any command team.”
Historically, for senior enlisted leadership, there has been a state command sergeant major for the Ohio Army National Guard and a state command chief master sergeant for the Ohio Air National Guard. The creation of the senior enlisted leader position for the Ohio National Guard is a first for the Buckeye State. Workley now directly advises Harris, as commander of the Ohio National Guard.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Workley is a seasoned and well-rounded NCO who brings a wealth of experience to the command team,” Harris said. “Moreover, his assignment will allow the Army state command sergeant major and Air command chief master sergeant to focus on what matters most — the readiness of the Army and Air National Guard.”
Regardless of a new dynamic in the organization and new position in the enlisted chain of support, Workley said he didn’t anticipate any issues finding his rhythm in the command structure.
“I view the relationship between the top three enlisted positions as a peer-to-peer-to-peer relationship, and we all have to collaborate if we want to move the ‘football’ forward.”
That sense of collaboration is needed as he is now the top NCO in a force numbering more than 16,000 strong. While Workley — originally from Cortland, Ohio and now a resident of Carroll, Ohio — comes from the Army, he said he is excited for the opportunity to work with and learn from the Air side of the Ohio National Guard.
“I want to get out and tour all the wings and get to know ‘who’s who’ across the Air National Guard,” he said. “It’s going to be continual learning, and then putting the pieces together.”
With a career spanning 35 years and with deployments to Afghanistan and Kuwait, Workley is no stranger to working with a wide variety of units and individuals. His military career started in 1984, when he was assigned as a food service specialist with the 3rd Ranger Battalion at Fort Benning, Georgia.
“I spent three years there, a great experience. I came out a different person than I went in. I credit my time on active duty with changing my trajectory and who I was.”
Transitioning to the Ohio National Guard, Workley has spent the last 32 years as a traditional Guard Soldier in a variety of roles at many levels, from mess sergeant to brigade command sergeant major, as the top enlisted leader for 73rd Troop Command. That wide range of experience while being a traditional, “part-time” Guard member is something he wants to bring to the senior ranks of leadership within the ONG.
“I think that a lot of the senior leaders in the organization have been in full-time status for a long time. Sometimes we don’t have the M-day (traditional Guard) perspective in the decision-making process,” Workley said. “Not that our full-time folks don’t understand it, but that it’s easy to overlook that perspective and how it affects our traditional force, which is the majority of our members.”
Workley said he has always seen himself as an advocate for traditional Guard members, wanting to keep their needs in the forefront of his mind, and remembering his experiences coming up through the ranks.
“It’s about collecting what the issues are with the Soldiers and Airmen down at their level, and bringing it up to the senior levels,” Workley said. “You spend a lot of time in your career getting to this point, accumulating all the knowledge and experience. Now that I’m there, I feel an obligation to represent the whole force.”