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Warrent Officers in the US Military

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  • Warrent Officers in the US Military

    I am not sure where to put this question, so just put it hear. What is a Warrent Officer ranks within US military and what purpose do there serve? It see to me that they are some where between NCO and officers.

  • #2
    Between the various branches there are different Warrant Officers but they are usually Warrant Officer (WO1), Chief Warrant Officer (CWO2), CWO3, and CWO4. (I'm sketchy on this part of the military). We just got a CWO3 in my old JROTC unit. He said "A Warrant Officer is a specialized "officer" who isn't in command of many troops or none at all". He was a electronics technician as an enlistedman and he chose the warrant officer route because he wanted to stay doing his job instead of administration work or changing his Occupation alltogether.

    Hope that helps a bit.
    The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. -Carl Jung

    Hell is other people. -Jean-Paul Sarte

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    • #3
      What he said.

      A Warrant Officer is a specialist. An officer is a generalist. WOs generally come from the enlisted ranks.

      When I was in the Marines, we had a CWO in charge of our division, Avionics, within our squadron. Somewhere along the way, he decided to go officer, and became a butter bar.
      Retreat hell, we just got here. Every Marine, a rifleman.

      Never let the facts get in the way of the truth.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by neon
        I am not sure where to put this question, so just put it hear. What is a Warrent Officer ranks within US military and what purpose do there serve? It see to me that they are some where between NCO and officers.
        A Warrant Officer doesn't need need a college degree to get his "warrant". In the Rank structure they fall between enlisted and commissioned officer. So technically a 2nd LT is supposed to outrank a CW05 but in practice it doesn't usually work out like that.

        In the Marines Corps you have to have been enlisted for at least 6 years and have reached the rank of Sergeant before you can put in a Warrant Officer package.
        "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell

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        • #5
          Technically speaking, a warrant officer has the "social status" (pay, privileges, etc.) of a commissioned officer, in deference to their high level of some technical skill, but has no "command authority". That is to say, warrant officers may be in charge of a motor pool or whatever, but they have no official authority to order men to go do something likely to get them killed as does a commissioned officer. Naturally, this distinction is rather fuzzy, and it is entirely possible a warrant officer might "unofficially" take command of a unit in extreme combat circumstances, but that is not their "proper" role.

          You can make a similar distinction between "specialist" and NCO enlisted ranks. Spec. 4s and corporals have the same paygrade, but the corporal is an NCO and thus has command authority, while the specialist does not. There used to be a whole sequence of specialist paygrades in the Army, but somewhere along the line the Army decided all senior enlisted *must* become NCOs even if they couldn't lead their way out of a dumpster. Stupid, in my opinion. Some guys just want (and are best suited) to be super-duper crane operators or whatever, not leaders of men.

          --- Kevin

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          • #6
            neon,

            Good answers so far, but I would add that sometimes the military wants a rank that is above NCO to do things, but not pay as much as they do officers. They used to have enlisted men (NCOs) as pilots in the various services before World War 2. It was decided that they would make aircraft pilots officers during that war. So when they started having large numbers of helicopters come into the inventory, they made them all officers, right? Wrong! They made the pilots Warrant Officers under regular officers! You do save a little money, short term and long term! You also don't need a college degree to fly helicopters.

            Warrant Officers are referred to as Mister instead of Sir. In the Marines, there are several ranks that have names, like Gunner (not Gunnery Sargeant "Gunny"), but are actually Warrant Officers. My GrandPaw's sister married a guy in the Navy that rose to Warrant Officer. He was in Nuclear Propulsion somehow. If he did not like an assignment he could and did call Personnel in Washington about it.

            Pruitt
            Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

            Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

            by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Leftie
              So technically a 2nd LT is supposed to outrank a CW05 but in practice it doesn't usually work out like that.
              I pitty the Butter Bar that tries to tell a CW5 what's going on. A CW5's equal officer would be a Col or higher and as for enlisted, a CSM. The Army only requires warrants for certain jobs so to become one you need to be in a "feeder" MOS or become a pilot whom start out as WO1's. Once you hit CW3 you're almost untouchable since your appointment is thru congress, same with E-7 and above. Basically they're technical experts.


              Kbluck-"There used to be a whole sequence of specialist paygrades in the Army, but somewhere along the line the Army decided all senior enlisted *must* become NCOs even if they couldn't lead their way out of a dumpster. Stupid, in my opinion. Some guys just want (and are best suited) to be super-duper crane operators or whatever, not leaders of men."

              I couldn't agree more. I got into alot of augruements about sending SPC4's to the promotion board only because they didn't have any disciplinary counselings. Some of them didn't even want to be promoted but HAD to attend the board because of unit policy. Some soldiers are meant to be super-specialists and not NCO's. This is a good way of destroying the NCO corp.
              If you can't set a good example, be a glaring warning.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by freightshaker
                I pitty the Butter Bar that tries to tell a CW5 what's going on. A CW5's equal officer would be a Col or higher and as for enlisted, a CSM. The Army only requires warrants for certain jobs so to become one you need to be in a "feeder" MOS or become a pilot whom start out as WO1's. Once you hit CW3 you're almost untouchable since your appointment is thru congress, same with E-7 and above. Basically they're technical experts.


                Kbluck-"There used to be a whole sequence of specialist paygrades in the Army, but somewhere along the line the Army decided all senior enlisted *must* become NCOs even if they couldn't lead their way out of a dumpster. Stupid, in my opinion. Some guys just want (and are best suited) to be super-duper crane operators or whatever, not leaders of men."

                I couldn't agree more. I got into alot of augruements about sending SPC4's to the promotion board only because they didn't have any disciplinary counselings. Some of them didn't even want to be promoted but HAD to attend the board because of unit policy. Some soldiers are meant to be super-specialists and not NCO's. This is a good way of destroying the NCO corp.
                I agree, we need to bring back SPC-5,6, and 7 for the non-combat branches.

                Know this guys, a 2nd LT will never be put in charge of a CWO5 or CSM, he's the OIC of one SFC and the platoon he runs.
                CPT Todd Griffin, US Army Infantry
                No matter whether a person belongs to the upper or lower ranks, if he has not put his life on the line at least once he has cause for shame.
                Nabeshima Naoshige (1538-1618)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by CPT
                  Know this guys, a 2nd LT will never be put in charge of a CWO5 or CSM, he's the OIC of one SFC and the platoon he runs.
                  I was in charge of a CW4 as a 2LT when I was a support platoon leader for my engineer company. He along with an E-7 ran the maintenance section, which was a subordinate element of my platoon. Naturally, one must be diplomatic and respecful of his considerable experience, but nevertheless be in charge. This was particularly true of field ops, when the Chief's preference for an orderly work environment and keeping his thumb on the mechanics sometimes got in the way of my mission to push support forward to the line platoons.

                  Occasionally, warrants are indeed prima donnas. We had one in the supply room for a while. Those need to be reduced like the obstacles they are when their rigidity interferes with the mission. It can be done; my company CO did it. But in my experience, most warrants are professionals and understand their role in the organization. Treated with due respect, they will do their jobs and support their leaders.

                  --- Kevin

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                  • #10
                    Interesting. A lot of intelligent and defintive answers...but not a single Warrant Officer amongst you.

                    As a retired Army Chief Warrant Officer, I suppose I have incurred some sort of obligation to post what I know about the set-up.

                    When asking about the history of warrant officers, you must first decide which time period and which country you want to talk about.

                    The first of the warrant offciers arose in the British sailing navy in the form of sailing masters. Hollywood has saddled us with the mistaken impression of the stern, iron Captain astride his quarterdeck day and night, guiding his great warship through storm and battle. Nothing could be much further from the truth.

                    British warships employed the invaluable services of a sailing master, the guy who knew more about where they were going and how to get there than anyone else aboard including the Captain. Day-to-day, and even in combat, the captain pointed the way and the sailing master gave the necessary and highly technical instructions that got a sailing man'o'war to go where it was supposed to go. Smart captains asked advice from sailing masters and deferred to their often encyclopedic knowledge of wind, weather and foreign shores. Not-so-smart ones ended up prematurely placed ashore. Additionally, the sailing master was charged with the day-to-day instruction of the mid-shipmen aboard in the complexities of sail and navigation. Given the awesome responsibility and the high level of skill and knowledge needed to command a sailing vessel, the men needed authority to give orders to a crew that could number as many as 700-800 or more men on a first rater like Nelson's Victory, and so they were "warranted" to be officers; i.e., given a written warrant outlining their authority in a specific area, rather than commissioned. It is said that the original concept came from a captain who exclaimed one day to his sailing master: "I warrant that you are as good as any officer I have ever sailed with!" , a term using the vernacular of the times. Only history knows. What is known is that this practice got it's begginings in a time of extreme social stratification, a time when officers were by King's Comminssion and the social mores of the times "Officers and Gentlemen", a custom still promulgated in today's armed forces, while rankers and all others were social inferiors. Hence, the warrant to carry the needed authority minus the social gracing of a commission.

                    Up through World War II, the armed forces of the world continued this practice, with some uniqie differences. The British used NCO's as pilots, but never made them warrants because in the British military, "warrants" are senior NCO's, master chief petty officers, sergents major and the like.

                    The Soviet navy used warrants, called mischmen, aboard naval vessels. These were again senior ratings as well as specialized senior ratings such as sonar operators, etc.

                    The American military did not, in the main, use NCO pilots. During WWII there were more than enough college grads to fill the ranks of pilot, navigator and bombardier shools, and the social structure of America still drew clear lines of distinction between the Ivy Leaguers and the working stiffs along side of them. They were still "officers and gentlemen" and the rankers were still the rankers. Officers had collegew educations; rankers did not - a distinction which took a massive beating as WWII progressed. My father for example, was a Summa Laude graduetye of Standford who entered the Army as a private in 1939 to escape starvation in the Depression, and who retired as a officer who was commissioned in 1941.

                    Viet Nam changed all that, when the demand for helicopter pilots, coupled with the lack of enough draftable college boys and the high loss rates made it mandatory to seek another solution. The miliary had considerable experience by then with the realities of warrant officers; therefore, the cheap and dirty solution was to create a vast cadre of warrant officer pilots to carry the brunt of the helicopter service forward, and it worked exceptionally well.

                    By the end of Viet Nam, warrants were firmly entrenched in the U.S. Army, primarily as communication specialists, maintenance specialists, CID investigators, chopper pilots and so forth, but largely discarded from the other branches of service, when another problem arose - The Berry Plan, the law that allowed the American Armed Services to train physicians in exchange for an obligated term of service expired, and the U.S. Army, locked into a Cold War, fielding massive numbers of troops and in depserate need of battlefield medical officers - a minimum of 400 of them for manuever battalions - came up with an innovative solution.

                    At the time, a pilot program at Duke University was training "physician assistants", essentially people trained to level of interns who would not beconme residents and finally full-fledged independent physicians but would remain limited practioners teamed with physicians, and the prgeam seemed to be successful. Therefore, the Army reasoned, such a program could solve the problem of the missing Berry Plan physicians for the Army.

                    In 1973, the Army began its pilot Physician Assitant Program with a distinguished training cadre as the jewel of its newly completed U.S. Army Academy of Health Sciences at fort Sam Houston, Texas. They selected 120 students for the first two classes, 60 per class, intended to require 18 months - immediately raised to two years - of intensive training, and the program began.

                    I won't bore you with the details of competition, selection, etc., except to tell you that the entry standards were weighted heavily in favor of intelligence, learning aptitude and advanced edcuation and only minimally in favor of experience. This is the only military MOS-generating school which originally required a complete battery of intelligence and psychological testing in order to qualify for entry, including a standard IQ test and a Minnesota Multi-phasic Personality Inventory, as well as a whole host of others. Two complete days of oral and written boards and mind bending examinations in order to be considered by the selection board, with a dauntingly low selection rate and a very high acedemic washout rate.

                    But, what to call these field medical officers? Physician Assistants, obviously, but rank? These men, and later women, might well have to command an entire medical platoon in combat as well as serve in the role of the old Battalion Surgeon. and money was, and always has been, a factor in Army personnel actions. So the Army settled on it's old tried-and-true favorite, the warrant officer, reasoning that this was a highly specialized field and this would keep them out of the chain of command but give them needed authority. To give the Army it's due, it actually worked fairly well for the first few years...but that's another story.

                    So now the military added yet another warrant specialty to the list of those proudly serving, the Physician Assistant, MOS 011A, a sly reference to the original alpha-numeric MOS of the old Enlisted Medical Specialist, 911A. Unfortunately, problems arose, including the fact that PA's were far more highly edcuated than any warrants before them, acrruing an Associate degree and 92 credit hours for their two years of training, the majority of them having or afterwards completing a bewildering vsriety of advanced degrees, and being, by virtue of selection, training, aptitude and intelligence far more intelligent that the majority of their predecessors, and, by the peculiaritites of the military combat medical system, forced to perform as full-fledged physicians far in excess of the poriginal program parameters, not to mention the awkward fact that medical officers give orders to nurse, often full colonels in the Army.

                    The story of the Army Physician Assistant Program is far too lenghty for this forum and this audience; suffice it to say only that the Army discovered a vast gulf between the relationship of pilots, who ignore rank as a rule, and the remainder of the West Point Wonder Boys and that Army PA's are now full-fledged commissioned officers standing proudly alongside their line-officer cousins, as they should be.

                    A brief note about warrant officers in general - as a rule, they have far more experience, time in service and specialized knowledge than any commissioned officer they serve with. Only a complete fool ignores or denigrates that fact. Officially addressed as "Mister", their unofficial and everyday address is simply "Chief". Neither enlisted nor true officer, neither group is foolish enough to challenge their authority needlessly. In a 750-man combat infantry battalion, every man can replaced, every postion filled and refilled as needed by combat attrition, every officer, NCO and soldier trained and cross-trained relentlessly to step into a dead man's shoes immediately and soldier on, the warrant officer PHysician Assistant was both unique and irreplacable, the only man in the entire unit whose unique knowledge and skills had no counterpart anywhere else in the unit, and only two others with the same training in the entire brigade. Thus, the authority of the WO PA was virtually unchallenged, and "Chief" was a highly regarded title.

                    As for the myths:

                    Warrants do not have the education. Some don't - PA's do. At a minimum, they have a Batchelor's. The graduates from my era have an Associate and a Batchelor's. Many have Master's.

                    Warrants do not command troops. I commanded medical platoons and Troop Medical Clinics for the last 8 years of my career, as a warrant officer PA. The medical plattons were in Class I combat units, Mech Infantry and Field Arty. My two clinics each served a population of 6000 soldiers, a level of responsibility equalled only by the Brigade Commander.

                    Warrants aren't "gentlemen" by act of Congress: don't even go there, and never assume that you may address my wife as "wife" while referring to some wet-in-the-pants 2LT's dependent as his "lady". Not if you hope to survive long enough to get promoted again.

                    Warrants do not require a higher level of authority: Oh, please...By that antiquated yardstick, neither do doctors or nurses.

                    Originally, Warrant ranks went from WO-1 to WO-4; I believe they now go as high as WO-6. I know that my standing as a retired Army Chief Warrant Officer still commands high respect on the grounds of the Air Force Academy, where I frequently go to recive medical care, a lot more respect than many Air Force officers get.

                    MountainMan
                    Retired Army Chief Warrant Officer
                    Originally of the 101st Airborne Division
                    1st Cav Airmobile, Republic of Viet Nam
                    2/28 Mech Infantry The Black LionsFRG
                    1/29 FA - M109/SP The Desert Rats

                    Take two of these and call me in the morning. No - you may not ask me "what is it?"

                    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                    • #11
                      MountainMan,

                      With all that Army training, you are of course prescribing two aspirin!

                      Pruitt
                      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Har!

                        On the Plains of Hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to rest-and resting... died. Adlai E. Stevenson

                        ACG History Today

                        BoRG

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                        • #13
                          Pruitt - negative. I am instead placing a bulk order for those great looking pills from the Admiral!
                          Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                          • #14
                            mmmmmm

                            Thanks everyone for the responses. Great litte history MountainMan. It sure is a interesting rank - warrant officer - I can't thick of any other country that has this simular ranking system.

                            MountainMan is right in saying that there are warrant officers in the British & old empire countries military forces who no more senior NCO's. Like in the Australia army there have WO class 2 and WO class 1, 1 being the highest rank. They often are refered to as and whole the ranks of Regimental, or Company or Squadron or Battery Sergeant Majors.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by neon
                              I am not sure where to put this question, so just put it hear. What is a Warrent Officer ranks within US military and what purpose do there serve? It see to me that they are some where between NCO and officers.
                              Warrant Officers fall between the senior enlisted grade and 2d Lieutenants. They perform some jobs normally performed by officers (such as helicopter pilots), but without having to complete a service academy, ROTC or OCS. They are addressed by their rank, e.g. CWO4 (pronounced see-whoa four) or as "Mister".
                              Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
                              (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)

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