UTICA, N.Y. -- Guard Soldiers and Airmen perform as well as their active duty counterparts, while applying "unique skills" to the fight, U.S. Central Command's top non-commissioned officer told New York National Guard enlisted leaders here on Saturday, April 20."The Guard brings a unique skill set - the dual nature and ability to combine both civilian and military skills doubles your effectiveness," said Command Sgt. Major Frank Grippe."You can no longer tell the difference between the active service members and the Guard and Reserve, they have the same impact," he said. "I amazes me how Guardsmen and women react at a moments notice and will walk away from their families, their homes and their jobs and immediately mobilize; bring their unique skills to defend our nation and return home as if they never served, this ability to switch on and off demonstrates a level of professionalism unique to the Guard," Grippe added.Grippe, who comes from New York, was the guest of honor at the Enlisted Association of New York National Guard dinner honoring outstanding junior enlisted and non-commissioned officers in the New York Army and Air National Guard.Grippe also visited Airmen and Soldiers of the New York National Guard's 174th Attack Wing and the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Syracuse, N.Y. and the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry in Utica, N.Y."It is truly an honor to be here in the presence of these exceptional enlisted members," Grippe said. "Over the past 11 years, the New York National Guard has been instrumental in defending our nation and supporting CENTCOM objectives."U.S CENTCOM oversees American military operations in 20 countries stretching from Egypt to Kazakhstan.New York Army National Guard Soldiers recognized at the dinner were:• New York's Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Sgt. 1st Class David Colliton, a network technician assigned to Joint Force Headquarters, Latham;• New York's Soldier of the Year Spec. Rachel Blanchette, a supply parts specialist with Company E, 3rd Battalion 142nd Aviation;• And Staff Sgt. Jimsey Roberts, readiness NCO for the 719th Transportation Company was named Active Guard and Reserve NCO of the Year."It's incredible how these warriors perform under pressure. It's impressive to see what they are capable of, they are truly the best of the best," said Command Sgt. Major Frank Wicks, New York State Command Sgt. Major.During the competition, Soldiers competed in physical fitness, negotiated hands-on tasks ranging from maintaining an M249 machine gun to evaluating a simulated battlefield casualty and answered questions on military history, customs and courtesies, Army policies, field manuals, and regulations.New York Air National Guard Airmen recognized were:• Sr. Master Sgt. Raymond Herr, Senior Non Commissioned Officer of the Year assigned to the 174th Attack Wing, Syracuse;• Master Sgt. Shawn J. Larrabee, 1st Sgt. of the Year assigned to the 107th Airlift Wing, Niagara Falls;• Staff Sgt. Mark Joseoff, Non Commissioned Officer of the Year from the 106th Rescue Wing, Westhampton Beach;• Sr. Airman Christopher Peterson Airman of the Year from the 106th Rescue Wing;• Sr. Airman Matthias Anderson, Honor Guard Program Manager of the Year for New York State from the 174th Attack Wing, Syracuse;• And Sr. Airman Donald Anderson, Honor Guard Member of the Year for New York State, assigned to the 174th Attack Wing, Syracuse."This is a very impressive group of Airmen and based on the competitive nature of the competitions they won, I expect these individuals will go far in their military careers," said Chief Master Sgt. Richard King, New York Air National Guard State Command Chief.In his remarks, Grippe urged the enlisted leaders to prepare their Soldiers and Airmen for service in the future, despite plans to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan.CENTCOM still has a lot of work to do and the Guard still has a role in supporting theater operations, Grippe said."There will continue to be opportunities for the National Guard to help with power projection and we need to ensure Soldier and family readiness by optimizing strategic coalitions and partners," he explained.Grippe emphasized that Soldiers at all levels need to remember "the basics" and remain consistent when training to the standards, as it correlates directly to success in combat."The basic skills to fight, which include physical fitness and combative training, weapons proficiency, individual skills and recently added structured self development create muscle memory and allows Soldiers to react accordingly to protect themselves and the force," he said.