An Army Warrant Officer is described as a technical expert in their assigned field. I should know, because I am one. Traditionally, Technical Warrant Officers (non pilots) are chosen from the Non-Commissioned Officer ranks and have been selected to become a Warrant Officer based on their proficiency in their assigned MOS (Military Occupation Specialty, or job). That may change shortly, however, as the Army is critically short in certain MOS’s, and they’re contemplating giving direct appointments to Warrant Officer (which means skip Warrant Officer Candidate School or WOCS) or even allowing E1-E4s to apply to go Warrant.
Message from the MI Warrant Officer Proponent
CW5 Richard Lawrence, the Military Intelligence Proponent (most senior Warrant Officer in the MI branch), sent an email out to the force stating “350F and 351M are critically short and most likely to miss the accession goals for the FY.” He goes on to state, “In the last message, I mentioned that the Army G-1 team is looking for creative solutions to solve the technical warrant officer shortages, including direct appointment/direct accession (DA/DC) and potentially opening the candidate pool to E1-E4 applicants.”
Lawrence later states, “the Combined Arms Center has directed the Proponents to reevaluate the current accession criteria and make recommended changes to open the aperture to additional applicants.” This indicates that all Warrant Officer branches are likely struggling to retain personnel. Lawrence offers suggestions and requests feedback from the force.
While I personally feel the recommended changes laid out in the second half of the email make sense and should be implemented regardless of an MOS shortage, I think allowing E1 to E4 to apply for Warrant Officer is a terrible idea. A private does not have the technical skills in their MOS, nor the maturity and experience you’d expect in a Warrant Officer to meet the demands required of them. A specialist (E4) MIGHT, depending on whether or not they had been in service for a while, but that would be rare. Many soldiers come in as specialists because they have college degrees. Their military experience is on par with a private.
Direct appointments are fine, however. WOCS is a joke and is seen as a right of passage to most Warrant Officers. It doesn’t prepare you to be an officer or do your job (you go on to do your technical training later) and is essentially three weeks of needless hazing for seasoned soldiers. Giving a dot (the first rank a Warrant wears) to a Sergeant First Class and sending them to train in their MOS makes perfect sense. They have more than ample job experience, and they’ve been recommended by a Warrant Officer who’s had the chance to review their technical abilities first hand.
All of these recommended changes scream red to green on excel. What that means is a quota needs to be met, and Army leaders are trying to make their excel trackers green instead of the red they currently sit at. The Army, and military as a whole, is bleeding personnel faster than they can make new ones, and it’s catching up to them. A Warrant Officer can’t be quickly created. Like I said, they’re technical experts. You can put a uniform and rank on a monkey, but don’t expect it to do much more than scream and fling feces at you when it gets angry. These shortages will continue to stack up in the foreseeable future as the military struggles to contend with EO violations being dismissed, sexual assault victims being ignored and other integrity issues soldiers see on a daily basis going unanswered for. As the proverb says, “you reap what you sow.”