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    Pa. National Guard members pass command of HHC, White House Communications Agency

    Pa. National Guard members pass command of HHC, White House Communications Agency

    Courtesy Photo | Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ellen Smith of Joint Force Headquarters, Pennsylvania National...... read more read more



    Story by Brad Rhen 

    Joint Force Headquarters - Pennsylvania National Guard

    FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – Command of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, White House Communications Agency recently transferred from one Pennsylvania National Guard member to another.

    Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ellen Smith relinquished command during a change-of-command ceremony on Jan. 28. Due to security reasons, her successor cannot be named.

    Both are members of the Pa. National Guard who work full-time for the National Guard Bureau.

    The WHCA provides an array of support to the president, vice president, first lady, U.S. Secret Service and other senior White House staff, most notably communications support.

    HHC, WHCA was established on Jan. 6, 2020, and Smith was its first commander. She had no previous command experience.

    “This isn’t a job a warrant officer would do,” she said. “Normally it would be a captain or major in command. So it was unique that I’m a warrant officer, and I got to represent Pennsylvania and the National Guard. Since my successor is also from Pennsylvania, I think that’s really neat, too.”

    Smith, who worked full-time at the WHCA as secretary of the joint staff prior to becoming commander of HHC, was selected to be commander after an internal talent management board.

    “After being considered along with other officers and warrant officers, I was privileged to be selected,” she said.

    HHC’s mission is to provide standardized, synchronized support to service members assigned to the WHCA in areas such as human resources, training, schools management and commander’s programs.

    The company is headquartered at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., but there are elements of the agency throughout the 18-acre White House Complex and at other geographically dispersed locations.

    Smith said it was incredibly intimidating when she was first approached about working at the agency.

    “However, I recognized it for the very unique opportunity that it was, as well as an opportunity to learn,” she said. “I had a fitness coach a few years ago tell me to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and it has really stuck with me. It has definitely been a theme throughout many of my assignments.”

    Every officer assigned to WHCA is trained as a Presidential Communications Officer, Smith said. PCOs travel to any location across the globe the president travels to in order to provide communications support and other duties.

    “I served as a PCO on numerous trips, but had not spoken more than a few words to President Trump,” Smith said. “It was very cool the first time I was on a trip and performed duties in support of the president. It’s certainly not a position I would have ever imagined myself in.”

    As a warrant officer, she said, she also never imagined she would be standing up a company and serving as its first commander.

    “It’s just not a career path available to warrant officers,” she said. “And for me to have done it as a member of the Army National Guard in an active-duty unit was also quite unique. Both positions, SJS and commander, as well as PCO, were all very challenging, demanding and stressful in their own rights, but I am thankful for the opportunity to have served in those positions.

    Smith is a native of Camp Hill, Pa., and is a graduate of Cedar Cliff High School. She has a bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral science from Penn State.

    Smith has been in Pennsylvania National Guard for 23 years and is assigned to Joint Force Headquarters. She currently works full time as a Title 10 United States Property and Fiscal Office (USPFO) operations officer, J8, for the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va.

    While working at the WHCA, Smith said she was acutely aware of the Keystone patch on her right shoulder sleeve, which she earned while serving with the Pa. National Guard's 28th Infantry Division.

    “I felt the weight of that patch and that I was representing the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, and I was proud of it,” she said. “I hope that I represented Pennsylvania well, and I’m certain that my successor will do the same.”



    Date Taken: 03.19.2021
    Date Posted: 03.19.2021 08:42
    Story ID: 391820
    Hometown: CAMP HILL, PA, US

    Web Views: 72
    Downloads: 0