Friday, February 27, 2009

What does it mean to be a warrant officer in the Oregon Army National Guard?

Do questions like “’Why should I become a warrant officer?’, ‘What are the benefits?’, ‘What do warrant officers really do?’, and ‘Aren’t warrant officers just ‘glorified NCOs?’,” sound familiar?

As your Command Chief Warrant Officer let me try and shed some light on these questions and others like them. Here are some general descriptions and guidelines for “The Silent Professionals.”

The Army’s definition of a Warrant Officer is:

“…a highly specialized expert and trainer, who, by gaining progressive levels of expertise and leadership, operates, maintains, administers and manages the Army’s equipment, support activities or technical systems for an entire career.”

Newly appointed or junior, commissioned warrant officers (warrant officer 1 or chief warrant officer 2) normally begin their careers at the company or detachment level and function as company grade officers. Warrant officers become commissioned officers when they are promoted from warrant officer 1 to chief warrant officer 2.

Chief warrant officer 3s and 4s are more in line with the battalion or brigade level. As “specialized experts” the quality and production of work should equal if not exceed field grade officers in their particular specialty. Chief warrant officer 5 positions are usually located in the higher headquarters, with the exception of aviation. Aviation warrant officers serve as senior advisors to command.

With the “progressive levels of expertise and leadership…,” comes additional pressure to succeed. The traditional trade-off has been pay, privileges and a greater opportunity to influence policy and procedures.

If junior warrant officers are successful, they are promoted to senior warrants and earn field grade privileges. This requires hard work and dedication.

When a soldier pins on the warrant officer rank, he or she commits themselves further to the organization and success of the unit and the commander. They are leaders in their field both by knowledge and example. They must maintain the equipment and themselves by meeting all the standards and requirements including height, weight, fitness and many others.

The day of the crusty old warrant sitting in his office chewing on a cigar and barking out regulations are over. We are the technical experts of the Army, in areas ranging from earning aviator wings, to making the communication system function, to ensuring all our soldiers have the “beans and bullets” and means to get to the fight.

We make it happen.

The Oregon Army National Guard currently has six warrant officer candidates heading off to Fort Rucker, Ala. for their Basic Course and one who remains on stand-by.

Join me in wishing the following success: Bill Lowe, admin. field, graduates March 15; Steve McDaniel, aviation field, graduates April 14; Jeremy Uhrig, aviation field, graduates April 14; Raphael Toler, aviation field, graduates April 14; Robert Young, mobilization field, graduates April 14; Nick Thompson, field artillery field, graduates April 14; and Eric Gustafson, aviation field who remains on stand by.

Good luck to each of you!

Column by Chief Warrant Officer 5 Warren Zagyva,
Command Chief Warrant Officer, Oregon National Guard

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