The Army Reserve on Thursday welcomed a new command chief warrant officer to its ranks.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Russell Smith assumed responsibility as the component's top warrant during a ceremony at the Pentagon. He succeeds CW5 Phyllis Wilson, who is moving on after three years on the job.

Smith most recently was the deputy commandant of the Warrant Officer Career College. As the Army Reserve's command chief warrant officer, Smith will advise senior leaders on matters pertaining to training and education, career management, leader development and warrior transition for warrant officers within the component.

"I will do my utmost to improve the warrant officer cohort of the United States Army Reserve," Smith said. "CW5 Wilson has set the bar high … [and] it will be an honor to carry on her legacy."

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general of Army Reserve Command, praised both senior warrant officers for their service.

"While warrant officers comprise less than 3 percent of the total force, their responsibility is immense," Talley said during his remarks.

Warrant officers provide "invaluable guidance and expertise," he said.

CW5 Phyllis Wilson

Photo Credit: Army Reserve

Wilson, who is going to serve as a fellow in the Army's Strategic Studies Group, said she is grateful for her time as the Reserve's top warrant officer.

"The things I've learned, the opportunities I've been afforded have been phenomenal," she said.

Some of her key initiatives on the job include reducing the backlog for Army Reserve warrant officer professional military education.

The backlog decreased from about 60 percent to 18 percent during her three-year tenure, she said.

"This means 82 percent of the warrant officers are properly educated to serve their commands and leaders," Wilson said. "That wasn't easy to do."

Wilson also has pushed to increase recruiting efforts for warrant officers. The Army Reserve is authorized about 4,400 warrants, and it is still short about 800, she said.

Another priority was professionalizing the force, Wilson said, "developing warrant officers as leaders and officers."

Her time on the job has "been like a PhD on steroids," she said.

"I've learned so much," she said, adding that she is excited for the opportunity to work on the Strategic Studies Group.

The group, which works for Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, generates innovative strategic and operational concepts for the Army of the future.

"It's an amazing opportunity," she said. "It's very rare, and I'm going to grab on to it."