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Thread: Warrant officers.

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Question Warrant officers.

    In the course of following the “Initial Officer Selection” thread my long-standing curiosity regarding the role(s) of warrant officers vis-à-vis NCOs and commissioned officers was tweaked. Anyone on the board willing and able to formulate a quick-and-dirty definition of ‘warrant officer’ or even to go into detail on the topic?
    Last edited by ganulv; 09-18-2011 at 07:08 PM. Reason: addition of a link
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Default The "go to guy"

    if he wants to be, is Bill Moore.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    In the course of following the “Initial Officer Selection” thread my long-standing curiosity regarding the role(s) of warrant officers vis-à-vis NCOs and commissioned officers was tweaked. Anyone on the board willing and able to formulate a quick-and-dirty definition of ‘warrant officer’ or even to go into detail on the topic?
    I my experience - limited to cadets, Warrant Officers were simply senior NCOs who were Company Sergeant Majors, the Regimental Sergeant Major, and perhaps other HQ types, all of whom presumably did HQ stuff.

    Maybe it's a way of paying senior NCOs more.

    My understanding is that the "warrant" in warrant officer is because, although he did/does not receive a personal commission from the monarch, he did/does receive a personal warrant appointing him to his position, unlike regular NCOs. Correct me if I'm wrong.

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    ganulv,

    Here is the accepted description of what a Warrant Officer is:

    Warrant Officers are highly specialized experts and trainers in their career fields. By gaining progressive levels of expertise and leadership, these leaders provide valuable guidance to commanders and organizations in their specialty. Warrant Officers remain single-specialty Officers with career tracks that progress within their field, unlike their Commissioned Officer counterparts who focus on increased levels of command and staff duty positions.
    http://www.usarec.army.mil/hq/warrant/#

    For those interested in the various Warrant Officer MOS descriptions and selection criteria for each I encourage you to look at the information at the link I provided.

    The Army Warrant Officer Corp has undergoing significant transformation in the past few years. It should come as no surprise to anyone that standards vary based on the demand signal for a particular MOS. However, across the board I have been largely impressed by the skills and professionalism of most Warrant Officers I have worked with across a wide range of MOSs. The common complaint now is that we're recruiting soldiers without enough experience to be the true subject matter expert in his or her field, and the counter argument is if we get them longer we have longer to develop them along a career track that will make them more value added over time.

    Our Warrant Officer is nothing like the Warrant Officer in the Common Wealth's system, where WOs are basically Sergeants Major. In the U.S. Army our senior executive level NCOs and Warrant Officers have very distinct roles and responsibilities.

    Read over the information at the link if your interested and I'll try to entertain any questions you may have.

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    Default Marine Gunners

    I can only speak to USMC Infantry Weapons Officers, aka Gunners. They are highly experienced and knowledgeable former gunnery sergeants (E-7) and up in the infantry. They have no command responsibilities, but are key enablers of a battalion's training, especially live fire ranges. They've been there and done that, even moreso in this day and age, so are also a huge repository of tactical and technical knowledge.

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    Default Markus,

    less of a correction than a supplement to this:

    from Markus
    My understanding is that the "warrant" in warrant officer is because, although he did/does not receive a personal commission from the monarch, he did/does receive a personal warrant appointing him to his position, unlike regular NCOs. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    This statement is historically accurate - e.g., (taking a service I've studied) the 1600s and 1700s French Marine master surgeons (whether ship-based or land-based) were appointed by warrant since they often would not have met the class standard for company-grade officers (landed gentry or higher).

    This statement held for US Army warrant officers (including chief warrant officers) until 1986 - from History of the Army Warrant Officer:

    The Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1986 amended Title 10 of the United States Code (U.S.C.) to provide that "Army Chief Warrant Officers shall be appointed by Commission." The primary purpose of the legislation was to equalize appointment procedures among the services. Chief Warrant Officers of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard had been commissioned for many years. Contrary to popular belief, the commissioning legislation was not a Total Warrant Officer Study (TWOS) recommendation but a separate Army proposal. Further clarification of the role of an Army Warrant Officer, including the commissioned aspect, is found in Field Manual 22-100. (See also “When and why were warrant officers commissioned?”)[JMM: good short summary by Bill Walton]
    See Warrant Officers Heritage Foundation Historical Resources for historical and related links.

    Title 10 USC 571, Warrant officers: grades, currently reads:

    (a) The regular warrant officer grades in the armed forces corresponding to the pay grades prescribed for warrant officers by section 201(b) of title 37 are as follows: Warrant officer grade: Chief warrant officer, W-5. Chief warrant officer, W-4. Chief warrant officer, W-3. Chief warrant officer, W-2. Warrant officer, W-1.

    (b) Appointments in the grade of regular warrant officer, W-1, shall be made by warrant by the Secretary concerned. Appointments in regular chief warrant officer grades shall be made by commission by the President.

    (c) An appointment may not be made in any of the armed forces in the regular warrant officer grade of chief warrant officer, W-5, if the appointment would result in more than 5 percent of the warrant officers of that armed force on active duty being in the grade of chief warrant officer, W-5. In computing the limitation prescribed in the preceding sentence, there shall be excluded warrant officers described in section 582 of this title.
    A limited by statute rara avis, the W-5.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore
    ....The common complaint now is that we're recruiting soldiers without enough experience to be the true subject matter expert in his or her field, and the counter argument is if we get them longer we have longer to develop them along a career track that will make them more value added over time....
    Of course it varies by branch and MOS, but my experience with HUMINT warrants and the shift from targeting experienced senior NCOs to targeting very junior NCOs is that we lost a significant amount of subject matter expertise and mentoring capability among HUMINT warrants in tactical units. The key word in the counter argument is career and the shift was focused precisely towards careerism (with all the negative implications of using that as a pejorative term).

    Sure, now warrant officers can make CW4 by the time they have 20 years in service. But the vast majority of warrant slots for positions where they work with tactical HUMINT on the ground is at more junior levels. And under the current warrant recruiting system, the junior warrants often have less experience than mid-grade NCOs, let alone the senior NCOs. Even worse, the expansion of Army HUMINT warrant positions resulted in recruiting outside of the HUMINT MOS, so we ended up with a number of junior warrant officers who were little better than privates just out of AIT, themselves requiring OJT and mentoring from the experienced NCOs who ended up with them in their units.

    When I was a young'un in a tactical HUMINT company way back when, our warrants tended to be CW2s who had all been SFCs/E-7 and were generally at or over 20 years of service. Now, in a similar situation, these CW2s are former SGTs/E-5 and tend to have less than 10 years in. The difference in capabilities for mentoring and training needs no further explanation.

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    Jedburgh,

    You bring up several pet peeves of mine with your post.

    the shift from targeting experienced senior NCOs to targeting very junior NCOs is that we lost a significant amount of subject matter expertise and mentoring capability
    This problem extends to a number of MOSs, and is not limited to Warrant Officers. The rapid promotions for all our ranks rapidly depletes experience from the tip of the spear. This was a very short sighted retention tool, when other options like base pay raises, or war time bonuses could have retained people at the grade they needed (and often wanted) to be at. NCOs have the same problem, and for the same reason, the Army (don't know who) insisted on career models that were similiar to the officer career track. I suspect this is because officers actually had a career track and it was easier to copy theirs than actually design one that is appropriate for WO and NCOs. The officer career track is designed to develop an experienced and well rounded manager/leader, while both Warrant Officers and NCOs should be spending as much time as possible at the tip of the spear gaining and sharing specialized technical and tactical knowledge instead of punching tickets (changing jobs) to remain competitive for the next grade. We could probably write a song titled "where have all the mentors gone?"

    The key word in the counter argument is career and the shift was focused precisely towards careerism (with all the negative implications of using that as a pejorative term).
    The saddest part is that those who put this focus on careerism are blind to the damage it is doing to the force.

    Sure, now warrant officers can make CW4 by the time they have 20 years in service. But the vast majority of warrant slots for positions where they work with tactical HUMINT on the ground is at more junior levels. And under the current warrant recruiting system, the junior warrants often have less experience than mid-grade NCOs, let alone the senior NCOs.
    Yep, now we have created "fair" opportunity for all WO selectees to make CW4 before they retire as though that was an issue to begin with. A senior SFC or MSG (we even had SGMs) who applies to become a Warrant are very much aware of how much time they have remaining before they will be asked to the leave the service and will be content with retiring as a CW2 or CW3. What matters to them is they have the opportunity to serve in that role. It is shame our bureaucracy has taken that opportunity away from them. It is even sadder that many in our bureaucracy don't understand what motivates our people. Not everyone considers promotion to the upper grade a measure of personal success.

    More importantly in my view we mandated the requirement for WOs to serve in positions based on their grade, which means they rarely have the flexibility to get back to the tip of the spear where their experience is really needed. Admittedly, we need senior WOs at higher positions instead of junior WOs, but there should be opportunities for senior WOs to return to the tactical ranks if they desire. If you think conventionally you may see this as a demotion, if you think about how can I best contribute and get job satisfaction you may decide helping the younger guys and gals at on the tip of the spear is more important.

    All frustrations aside, the men and women we pick almost always rise to the occassion, and changes to the legacy WO system were implemented for sound reasons. I would just suggest we didn't necessarily make the right changes, but changes were needed for a lot of reasons.

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