The Full Wiki

More info on Warrant Officer (United States)

Warrant Officer (United States): Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

In the United States military, a Warrant Officer (grade W-1 to W-5) is ranked as an officer above the senior-most enlisted ranks, as well as officer cadets and candidates, but below the officer grade of O-1 (NATO: OF-1). Warrant officers are highly skilled, single-track specialty officers, and while the ranks are authorized by Congress, each branch of the Uniformed Services selects, manages, and utilizes warrant officers in slightly different ways. For appointment to Warrant Officer One (W-1), a warrant is approved by the secretary of the service. Chief Warrant Officers (W-2 to W-5) are commissioned by the President of the United States, and take the same oath as regular commissioned officers (O-1 to O-10).

Warrant officers can and do command detachments, unit, activities, vessels, aircraft, and armored vehicles as well as lead, coach, train, and counsel subordinates. However, the Warrant Officer's primary task as a leader is to serve as a technical expert, providing valuable skills, guidance, and expertise to commanders and organizations in their particular field.


In the Navy, Warrant Officers have traditionally been the technical experts whose skills and knowledge were an essential part of the proper operation of the ship. Navy CWOs serve in 30 specialties covering 5 categories. Navy Chief Warrant Officers are technical officer specialists who perform duties that require expertise and commissioned officer authority to direct technical operations in a given occupational area. Chief Warrant Officers should not be confused with Limited Duty Officers. They perform duties that are technically oriented, that is, requiring skills directly related to previous enlisted service and specialized training, while not significantly affecting their ability to perform those duties through advancement to other duty positions and responsibilities—--allowing the Navy to capitalize on their experience. Sailors must have been a senior non-commissioned officer (E-7 through E-9) to gain the commission.


Based on the British Royal Navy warrant ranks that were in place until 1949, the Navy has had warrant officers among its ranks, in some form or another, since 23 December 1775, when John Berriman received a warrant to act as purser aboard the brigantine, the USS Andrea Doria. That warrant was considered a patent of trust and honor but was not considered a commission to command. Since this first appointment, Navy and Coast Guard Warrant Officers have held positions as surgeons, master mates, boatswains, carpenters, and chaplains. While the United States, lacking an aristocracy, never needed to address the issues underlying the founding of warranted officers in the Royal Navy, a similar issue of rank -- that is, highly competent senior non-commissioned officers reporting to inexperienced junior officers -- gave rise to special status to the Navy's Chief Warrant Officers.

In 1975, the Navy stopped utilizing the grade of Warrant Officer (W-1); the reason for this involved "high year tenure" Chief Petty Officers actually losing pay when appointed to the grade of Warrant Officer. All CWOs in the Navy are now appointed CWO-2 through CWO-5 and managed by billets appropriate for each rank. There have also been historical examples of former E-8s and E-9s to resign their warrant commission prior to retirement so as to take a greater retirement pay in the senior enlisted ranks. (Source: MILPERSMAN 15560.D, OPNAV 1811.3, OPNAV 1820.1)

Flying Chief Warrant Officer

As of 2006 the Navy started a test program called the "Flying Chief Warrant Officer Program" for pilots and naval flight officers. Enlisted sailors in the grades E-5 through E-7 who have at least an associate's degree and are not currently serving in the diver, master-at-arms, nuclear, SEAL, SWCC or EOD communities are eligible to apply. Upon being commissioned as CWO2s, selectees will undergo warrant officer indoctrination and then flight school for 18 to 30 months; after completion of flight school, will be placed in one of four types of squadrons: anti-submarine, combat support, patrol or reconnaissance. The pilots and naval flight officers will be trained to operate P-3s, EP-3s and E-6s; for helicopter squadrons bringing in warrant officer pilots, will be trained to operate H-60s. The program will be evaluated until 2011 when the last of the "flying chief warrant officers" are expected to report to their squadrons. They will be barred from operating tactical aircraft, such as F/A-18s and S-3s.


The Army Warrant Officer traces lineage to the civilian Headquarters Clerk, later designated the Army Field Clerk. An Army Judge Advocate General review determined they should be members of the military. Legislation in 1916 authorized those positions as military and on 9 July 1918 Congress established the rank and grade of warrant officer concurrent with establishing the Army Mine Planter Service (AMPS) within the Coast Artillery Corps. The mine vessels, formerly civilian crewed, would henceforth be crewed by military personnel with the vessel's master, mates, chief engineer, and assistant engineers Army Warrant Officers. The official color of the Warrant Officer Corps, brown, was based on the brown sleeve insignia of rank for ship's officers of the Army Mine Planter (AMP).

Since that time, the position of WO in the Army has been refined. In 1941, two grades were created, Warrant Officer Junior Grade (W1) and Chief Warrant Officer (W2). In 1942, there were temporary appointments in about 40 occupational areas, then in September of 1942 the grade of Flight Officer was created in the W1 pay grade and assigned to the US Army Air Force (USAAF).

Some of the first Flight Officers were Americans serving as sergeant pilots in the Royal Air Force and were transferred to the USAAF after the U.S. entered the war. Most Flight Officers were graduates of various USAAF flight training programs, including pilot, navigator and bombardier ratings. A portion of each graduating class were commissioned as Second Lieutenants, while the remainder were appointed as Flight Officers. Once reaching operational units and after gaining flying experience, many Flight Officers were later offered direct commissions as lieutenants.

In November of 1942, the War Department defined the rank order as having warrant officers above all enlisted grades and below all commissioned grades. In 1944, women were appointed to the warrant officer grades.

In 1949, the grades of W3 and W4 were created with Chief Warrant Officer now occupying W2, W3 and W4, then in 1953 the Warrant Officer Flight Program was created, which trained thousands of warrant officer pilots. In 1954, the new era of warrant officer history began. At the end of 1991 the grade of W5 was created.

Today, the United States Army Warrant Officer is a technical expert, combat leader, trainer, and advisor. The purpose of the Army WO is to serve in specific positions which require greater longevity than the billet duration of commanders and other staff officers. The duration of these WO assignments result in increased technical expertise as well as the leadership and management skills that make them so effective for the Army.

Army warrant officers serve as technical and tactical experts and leaders in 45 basic WO Military Occupational Specialties. They serve in 15 branches of the service, spanning the Active service, the Army National Guard, and the U.S. Army Reserve. They also serve at every level, from down at the section and platoon all the way to the upper echelons of the Department of the Army. Warrant officers command the Army's vessels and most bands and aircraft. In addition, they may be found in command of various small units and detached teams.

Regardless of rank, Army warrant officers are officially addressed as Mr. (Mrs., Miss, Ms.). Unofficially, the informal title of "Chief" is often used as a familiar form of address.


The body of warrant officers in the Army comprises two communities: technicians and aviators. Technicians typically must be enlisted in the rank of Sergeant (E-5) or above in a related specialty to qualify to become a Warrant Officer. The aviation field is open to all applicants, military or civilian, who meet the stringent medical and aptitude requirements. Civilian applicants to Warrant Officer Flight Training (WOFT) are occasionally referred to as going from "high school to flight school" because a college degree is only a recommended qualification, compared to other service aviation programs.

After selection to the Warrant Officer program, candidates attend the Warrant Officer Candidate Course which is developed and administered by the Warrant Officer Career College at Fort Rucker, Alabamamarker. Active duty Army candidates attend the course at Fort Rucker's Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS), while Army Reserve or National Guard candidates attend the course either at Fort Rucker or else one of the National Guard's Regional Training Institutes. After graduation, all candidates are promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer One (WO1). Technicians attend training at their respective branch's Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC) where they learn advanced subjects in their technical area before moving on to their assignments in the Army. Aviation warrant officers remain at Fort Rucker to complete flight training and the Aviation WOBC. Upon completion of their training, aviation warrant officers receive the Army Aviator Badge.

Special Forces Warrant Officer Candidates, from both the active and reserve force components, attend the Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification Course (WOTTC) at the Special Forces Warrant Officer Institute, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Braggmarker, North Carolinamarker. The course includes both WOCS and WOBC, tailored to the unique training and experience of the Special Forces Sergeant. Candidates must be Staff Sergeant (E-6) and above and have served three years on an operational detachment.

The Army in 2009 began training a limited number of its warrant officers at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworthmarker (training at the college in the past was reserved almost exclusively for majors).


Warrant Officer, One (WO1)
  • Appointed by warrant from the Secretary of the Army, WO1s are technically and tactically focused officers who perform the primary duties of technical leader, trainer, operator, manager, maintainer, sustainer, and advisor.

Chief Warrant Officer, Two (CW2)
  • CW2s become commissioned officers by the President of the United States. They are intermediate-level technical and tactical experts who perform increased duties and responsibilities at the detachment through battalion levels.

Chief Warrant Officer, Three (CW3)
  • CW3s are advanced-level experts who perform the primary duties of a technical and tactical leader. They provide direction, guidance, resources, assistance, and supervision necessary for subordinates to perform their duties. They primarily support operations levels from team or detachment through brigade.

Chief Warrant Officer, Four (CW4)
  • CW4s are senior-level experts in their chosen field, primarily supporting battalion, brigade, division, corps, and echelons above corps operations. They typically have special mentorship responsibilities for other WOs and provide essential advice to commanders on WO issues.

Chief Warrant Officer, Five (CW5)
  • CW5s are master-level experts that support brigade, division, corps, echelons above corps, and major command operations. They provide leader development, mentorship, advice, and counsel to Warrant Officers and branch officers. CW5s have special Warrant Officer leadership and representation responsibilities within their respective commands.

Coast Guard

The Chief Warrant Officers in the Coast Guard may be found in command of larger small boat stations and patrol boats, as specialists and supervisors in other technical areas, and as special agents in the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS). They wear insignia essentially like that of their Navy counterparts, but add the USCG shield between the rank insignia and the specialty mark, as Coast Guard commissioned officers do with their rank insignia. Candidates for Chief Warrant Officer must be a senior non-commissioned officer (E-7 through E-9), or an E-6 in the top 50% of the promotion list to E-7. The Coast Guard does not use the rank of Warrant Officer (WO1). While the Coast Guard has been authorized use of the W-5 grade, to date, it has not done so.

Marine Corps

The Marine Corps has had warranted officers since 1916 as technical specialists who perform duties that require extensive knowledge, training and experience with particular systems or equipment. Marine warrant officers would be selected from the ranks of non-commissioned officers and given additional training in leadership and management. In 1943, all Marine warrant officer ranks were aligned with the other services. They were Warrant Officer (W1) and Commissioned Warrant Officer (W2). The duties Marine warrant officers typically fulfill are those that would normally call for the authority of a commissioned officer, however, require an additional level of technical proficiency and practical experience that a commissioned officer would not have had the opportunity to achieve.

An enlisted Marine can apply for the Warrant Officer program after serving at least eight years of enlisted service, and reaching the grade of E-5 (Sergeant) for the administrative warrant officer program or after serving at least sixteen years of enlisted service and reaching the grade of E-7 (Gunnery Sergeant) for the weapons warrant officer program. If the Marine NCO is selected, he or she is given additional training in leadership and management.

Air Force

The United States Air Force no longer uses the warrant officer grade. The USAF inherited warrant officer ranks from the Army at its inception in 1947, but their place in the Air Force structure was never made clear. When Congress authorized the creation of two new senior enlisted ranks in 1958, Air Force officials privately concluded that these two new "super grades" could fill all Air Force needs then performed at the warrant officer level, although this was not publicly acknowledged until years later. The Air Force stopped appointing warrant officers in 1959, the same year the first promotions were made to the new top enlisted grade, Chief Master Sergeant. Most of the existing Air Force warrant officers entered the commissioned officer ranks during the 1960s, but tiny numbers continued to exist for the next 21 years.

The last active duty Air Force warrant officer, CWO4 James H. Long, retired in 1980 and the last Air Force Reserve warrant officer, CWO4 Bob Barrow, retired in 1992. Upon his retirement, he was honorarily promoted to CWO5, the only person in the Air Force ever to hold this grade. Barrow passed away in April 2008. Since Barrow's retirement, the Air Force warrant officer ranks, while still authorized by law, are not used.

Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

,   and   of the U.S. Code of law establishes the use of warrant officers (W-1 to W-4) with specific specialties to the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps for the purpose of providing support to the health and delivery systems maintained by the service, however the grades have never been used in Public Health Service history to date.

Modern insignia and grades

Grade Rank Abbreviation Army Air Force
Navy Coast Guard Marine Corps
W-1 Warrant Officer One WO-1

WO1 (Army)
W-2 Chief Warrant Officer Two CWO-2

CW2 (Army)
W-3 Chief Warrant Officer Three CWO-3

CW3 (Army)
W-4 Chief Warrant Officer Four CWO-4

CW4 (Army)
W-5 Chief Warrant Officer Five CWO-5

CW5 (Army)

See also

Warrant Officers


  1. | The California State Military Museum - Forts Under the Sea - Submarine Mine Defense of San Francisco Bay
  2. | Warrant Officers - Insignia of Grade
  4. United States Coast Guard. "USCG Rank Insignias." United States Coast Guard. Department of Homeland Security. website. Retrieved on 8 October 2009.
  5. Air National Guard Retired Fire Chiefs. "CWO4 Bob Barrow". Accessed on 27 January 2009.

Further Reading

  • United States Congressional Budget Office study on Warrant and Limited Duty Officers [326378] PDF version

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address