What is a Warrant Officer?

Carol

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There's a Wiki page
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrant_Officer

And one that specifies the role a little more clearly in the U.S. :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrant_Officer_(United_States)

But what I'm more interested is more about the life of a Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army National Guard.

Why would someone entering the service aspire to be one?

Could anyone share the risks/rewards of choosing this path over another path in the armed services?

How competitive is the track to get there?

What sort of combat or personal dangers might a Warrant Officer encounter?

Inquiring minds want to know :)

(In case anyone is wondering...I'm not interested in becoming a Warrant Officer but I know a hardworking Pfc. that is considering the track...I'd just like to learn more about it)
 

theletch1

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In the USMC a warrant officer is in that hazy gray area between the enlisted and "full" officer ranks. Warrant officers are chosen from the enlisted ranks. I can't tell you much at all about them... especially in the Army National Guard because I never could really figure out how to deal with them in the Corps.
 

CuongNhuka

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In the USMC a warrant officer is in that hazy gray area between the enlisted and "full" officer ranks. Warrant officers are chosen from the enlisted ranks. I can't tell you much at all about them... especially in the Army National Guard because I never could really figure out how to deal with them in the Corps.

Aren't Marine Warrant Officers also specialists? Like a semi-commissioned version of a Master Sgt/Master Gunnery Sgt? Either way, I know an Retired Army CWO4 (Chief Warrant Officer 4, so the Fourth Warrant Officer rank). He told us that pilots are Warrant Officers (expect Airforce of course).
 

MBuzzy

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Pilots are not necessarily Warrant Officers, but in the Army, the MAJORITY of "Chiefs" or Warrant Officers are Helicopter pilots. There are also Officer helicopter pilots, but many of them are Warrant Officers. Chiefs are not really in between Enlisted and Officers.....though they fall there in the structure, they are more like a separate rank. They're not enlisted, they're not officers. All Warrant Officers outrank Enlisted and all Officers outrank WOs. It is kind of hard to explain actually!
 

CoryKS

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My understanding is that a Warrant Officer is a specialist in his field who is given officer-level authority in order to perform his duties. This places him above the enlisted hierarchy in which his authority would be limited by rank and time in service. They can often be found in MOS's which require substantial technical knowledge, such as weapons or computer systems.

It's like promoting a techie to the position of CIO. Most corporate leadership positions are held by MBAs who may have studied business practices and leadership principles, but who don't have any working knowledge about the product that the company actually makes. ;)
 

arnisador

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There's a "High School to Flight School" program for Army warrant officers. You go straight to being a WO. Indeed, most Army WOs/CWOs you hear about are helicopter pilots but there are nearly 50 specialties open to them. Most of the non-flyers are high-performing enlisted personnel who wanted to specialize and have the additional leadership opportunities.

You're a WO-1 (Warrant Officer) for about 2 years, then a CWO-2 through CWO-5 (Chief Warrant Officer) thereafter. Promotion comes every 5-6 years for someone on track. All warrant officers are officers and since the 1990s, all CWOs are commissioned (though they're not what you think of when you use the term "commissioned officer"; remember, corporals and sergeants are (non-commissioned) officers too, as they can give orders which, if lawful, must be obeyed). A big difference: Officers are generalists but warrant officers are specialists. Becoming a warrant officer lets one continue doing the same type of task for a whole career. An officer may lead a platoon, then be a S-3 for a company, then spend some time recruiting, then lead a company, then go back for more schooling, then be an S-4 for a battalion, then serve in a Pentagon desk job, then teach at the Academy,..., but a warrant officer generally does the same thing for his or her whole career, by choice. Typically it's a more technical type of job.

The Air Force (and hence Air National Guard) doesn't use them, by choice. The "warrant" originally meant being appointed an officer by warrant of a government official (in the U.S., the Secretary of the Army, etc.) rather than commission by a head of state. They appeared first in the European navies, which needed them as technical specialist. Fletcher Christian of the H.M.S. Bounty was a warrant officer as master's mate, not a regular officer of the British Navy as Lt. Bligh was. Typically a physician, carpenter, etc. might also be warranted by the ship's captain, who also enlisted the crew.

Be careful! Many services did away with this as a third cadre. In the U.K. army, for example, a warrant officer is a sort of super-sergeant, but still enlisted. Other countries made it the most junior commissioned officer rank, though many have since dropped it.

For your friend, it's better pay, a higher rank (above all enlisted personnel), and makes it easier to become an officer if desired some day. The big reason to d it would be if he really knew what he wanted to do in the Army and wanted to be sure to be able to keep doing it for the rest of his career. Other risks vary with the specific specialty chosen. The slight career risk: If, as happened near us twice recently, the guard/reserve center has its mission changed and begins doing something wholly different, it might be easier for him to change tracks as an enlisted man than as a WO, depending on many factors. The other issue is that many people, like you, don't know what one is, so it may be harder to explain to a civilian employer how that experience is relevant.

In general, for a bright person with some leadership and technical potential who really enjoys a particular aspect of his job, and who doesn't mind being 'typecast', this is a great deal and to be encouraged.
 

kidswarrior

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Pilots are not necessarily Warrant Officers, but in the Army, the MAJORITY of "Chiefs" or Warrant Officers are Helicopter pilots. There are also Officer helicopter pilots, but many of them are Warrant Officers.
That's how I remember it from friends who were ex-Army.
Chiefs are not really in between Enlisted and Officers.....though they fall there in the structure, they are more like a separate rank. They're not enlisted, they're not officers. All Warrant Officers outrank Enlisted and all Officers outrank WOs. It is kind of hard to explain actually!
In the Navy, a CWO in the day-to-day of things *outranks* everyone but God, and even that's been debated...But then, what do I know. Have to go back 35 years to pick up the threads :D And there was no 'track' that I recall. You got plucked out of the ranks, or you didn't.
 

arnisador

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They changed things a lot around the 90s, when they started commissioning CWOs. But they Navy, while emphasizing earlier accession, still chooses from the enlisted ranks, and in fact doesn't even use WO-1 because of it. In the Navy they're very much technical specialists, like LDOs.
 

MBuzzy

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In the Navy, a CWO in the day-to-day of things *outranks* everyone but God, and even that's been debated.

That's a great point....WOs in general are like Super Senior NCOs. It is the same idea as Chief Master Sergeants or Sergeant Majors......TECHNICALLY the Officers outrank them.....but seriously....no way. An E-9 is like a god in most units...WOs get the same treatment a lot of the time. An Officer COULD try to pull rank...but then they'd get stationed in the Arctic Circle.
 

jks9199

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That's a great point....WOs in general are like Super Senior NCOs. It is the same idea as Chief Master Sergeants or Sergeant Majors......TECHNICALLY the Officers outrank them.....but seriously....no way. An E-9 is like a god in most units...WOs get the same treatment a lot of the time. An Officer COULD try to pull rank...but then they'd get stationed in the Arctic Circle.
A good Sergeant Major or Master Chief isn't ever going to put his officers in a position of contradicting them or giving them an unwise order, as I understand it. Any halfway decent officer is going to realize that the suggestion from an E8 or E9 is on par with the voice of God whispering in their ear...
 

MBuzzy

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A good Sergeant Major or Master Chief isn't ever going to put his officers in a position of contradicting them or giving them an unwise order, as I understand it. Any halfway decent officer is going to realize that the suggestion from an E8 or E9 is on par with the voice of God whispering in their ear...

That's been my experience. I've met a lot of idiot E1-E7s....but it is tough to find an E8 or E9 that doesn't know their stuff.

Personally, if a Chief tells me something, it might as well be god. They also have a way of making sure you know without them having to tell you. I've often found myself doing exactly what the Chief wanted without even realizing. After the fact just being like.... "hey....that wasn't my idea." I've also heard of a lot of Chiefs closing commander's doors and saying "This is stupid, don't do it."
 

shihansmurf

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I am in the process of submitting a Warrant Officer packet at the moment. I have to attend a school that I've been unable to get seated in due to an injury but the doc says I'm good to go, so as soon as I graduate I'll drop the packet and hope for to be selected.

As others have pointed out there are pros and cons about making the jump, but for me I've encountered the problem of being in an MOS that tops out at E-7 for all intents and purposes. There are a disproportionate number or E-8 and E-9 authorizations for my job and my CMF doesn't combine down with any other field. So, I've got one more promotion that will in all probability happen this year or the next and then I'll have the joy of sitting at Sergeant First Class for the next nine or ten years until I retire. Not my idea of a good time. So I figure the warrant jump is a good one.

The roles that Warrants are filling have changed a lot recently. A WO1 isn't being viewed as a technical expert anymore, kinda hard to do so when the Army is accepting E-4's with four years experience and no NCOES into warrant school, depending on the warrant field (a couple of the Warrant mos fields don't have mos feeder, interesting that, or will waive that requirement in a few cases)., and now are being used in many more traditional junior officer roles. As was also pointed out, all Warrant Officers
are commissioned at CW2 so the line is blurred even more nowadays.

In any event, the authority and "who out rank who" lines are always blurry in the army. Even as a Staff Sergeant, I don't really have too much hassle with a LT(2nd or 1st) or very many captains (to be fair though, I don't tend to butt heads on things unless its really important, or could impact one of my soldiers in a serious way than I'll fight tooth and nail with anyone, no matter whats on their collar, for that matter). Chain of command, NCO Support Channel, Command Authority, General Military Authority, and Article 91,Positional Authority, and not to mention the ever popular ""Rating Chain" makes the subject of authority rather vauge:).

Mark
 
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