Posted on Apr 26, 2017
SN Greg Wright
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Where the Army has fixed-wing aircraft (they do), those pilots are Commissioned, so I got to wondering what the deal is. All other services, rotary-winged pilots are Commissioned.
Posted in these groups: Rank RankSpyplane AviationAmerican-flag-soldiers SoldiersPilot_logo Pilot
Edited >1 y ago
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Responses: 51
CPT Nicholas D.
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Most Army Aviators are Warrant Officers. Even in the Fixed Wing side of the house, most of our airplane pilots are Warrants. (In the OSAA Detachments, they were originally ALL Warrant Officers, commanded by CW5's. Then someone decided to change the organization, give them an MTOE, and now I have to face a 2LT every morning when I am shaving in the mirror). The reason the Army chose to make the bulk of its Aviation personnel Warrant Officers was because they wanted an appropriate grade and courtesy bestowed upon its pilots, but did not want the O-Grade promotion/assignment process to disrupt continuity. The idea is that you have a technical officer who can devote his career to becoming an expert in his craft. Our O-Grade Officers (O-Grade is a term we use since CW2's and above are "legally" commissioned officers) are still pilots, but unfortunately that role is often times secondary to their chosen path to be managers of the organization. At least we have a Branch now. There was a time that other branch officers (Infantry, Engineer, Artillery,etc) would be "Branch Detailed" to Aviation to serve as the leadership. The problem was you had an Infantry Officer who just wounded his competitiveness with other Infantry Officers by spending valuable years of his career doing "non-Infantry" things. The creation of the Aviation Branch was intended to correct that issue.

An Army Warrant Officer will spend most of their career in operational flying positions, whereas our O-grades will do their platoon and company time and spend the rest of their careers in Staff positions. A few will become Battalion and Brigade Commanders. A microscopic few will ever see General Officer, but most of our hemorrhage on the O-Grade side of the house comes around the O-3 level. Many Army Captains will have fulfilled their mandatory service obligation after 6 years, see the proverbial flying desk ahead, and will separate, branch transfer, or some will revert to Warrant Officer (happens a lot more in the Guard and Reserves than in the Active Component.) Those that stay to see the oak leaf aren't spending too much time in a cockpit.

Having seen both sides of the coin, I see the intent. The idea was to create a system where guys aren't promoted out of a cockpit too fast. For the most part, it works, but as a Warrant Officer sees CW3 and above, he starts seeing the Staff Monster creeping around the corner more and more. At least he still gets to fly once in a while.
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SGT Mustafa Stokely
SGT Mustafa Stokely
>1 y
CW3 David Bandel - Sir, on the subject of Warrant Officers, how is it possible that they can also be Commissioned Officers?! (And if a WO2 and above are commissioned, how can they be subordinate to a 2LT?!) Also, when did this "commissioning" of Warrant Officers began?! I'm fairly sure no such thing existed when I served in the Active Army, back in the early 1980s. I am utterly confused about this issue! (I have a thread elsewhere specifically on this subject and would it be possible for you to post a clarification so that we can better understand this change? Thank you, Sir.)
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CPT Nicholas D.
CPT Nicholas D.
11 mo
SGT Mustafa Stokely I tried doing a quick research on “when” this happened. Couldn’t find a date. CW2 and above are “commissioned”, meaning they derive their authority through a commission by the President of the United States. The rank of Warrant Officer (WO1) is an appointment by the service secretary (i.e Secretary of the Army). What this allows is for Chief Warrant Officers to perform certain duties that other commissioned officers can do such as swearing people in (under oath or into an enlistment) and other command functions. The Warrant Officer is still a subordinate grade to the O-Grade officers, but by giving Chief Warrant Officers a commission, it provided more authority for them to execute their duties. All Warrants WO1-CW5 rate a salute from enlisted. All O-Grades, 2LT-COL rate a salute from all Warrant Officers. (Generals get saluted by everyone). But I just wanted to clarify that even though Ws are commissioned, that doesn’t disrupt the order of rank. That is... until you have a CW2 who is the Pilot in Command and his “PI” (Copilot) is the Battalion Commander (O5). There’s a lot of leadership dynamics coming together at that moment!
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CW2 Fred Baker
CW2 Fred Baker
10 mo
Most of what I have read here rings true, but another reason for Warrants existed. Back in my day, there was a need for a massive amount of pilots. At that time Warrants had their own branch and they were paid less than the regular officers. Of course, most Warrants only had an high school education and the pay was respectable. Also, we only had four grades and there were no command Warrants. In my case, I didn't see it as a career as much as today's Warrants. I was a technical officer, who was constantly learning about my profession. I loved flying and everything attached to it. Bear in mind, I left the service due to a reduction in force in 1971. There have been a lot of changes since.
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SCPO John Schneider
SCPO John Schneider
9 mo
Seems to me as an outsider (Navy), Warrants can stay at the job they do best, being pilots. Whereas, JOs when promoted may run into an overhead problem at their unit & also have to accept more responsibility outside of being a pilot. Much simpler to provide an efficient manning level with Warrants.
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LCDR Keith Trepanier
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Edited >1 y ago
Having served as an Army Warrant Officer pilot and as a commissioned officer pilot in the Coast Guard, I can tell you that a lot of the reasoning has to do with sheer numbers and cost. Congress mandates how many commissioned officers each service can have. It doesn't mandate how many warrant officers it can have so the Army takes advantage of that. The Army has more aircraft than the Air Force and a lot more pilots. So having them as warrant officers helps a few things.

It allows them to have more pilots at an overall lower cost than if all the pilots were commissioned and they don't have to have a bunch of officers competing for a very limited amount of leadership positions.

In other services, the commissioned officer pilots are always looking for additional jobs to do outside of aviation so they have something to show when it becomes time to get promoted or get looked at for command. A warrant officer pilot does his best to avoid additional jobs or even get looked at by the command. That way they can focus on doing the job of flying and figuring out how to leave early and avoid PT.

In other services, the youngest pilot in the unit will be about 23 years old, college educated, ponders decisions, and looks down on those who are not as gentlemanly as they are. A warrant officer pilot could be as young as 19, with no college education, tends not to over think things, says "watch this" a lot, and gives a big F U to those who think they are better than they are.

In other services, the pilots eat their own. It is a struggle to get the support you need from your fellow officers especially those at the same rank because they see you as competition. Warrant Officer pilots create a pack. Often known as the WOLF pack or Warrant Officer Liberation Front. If you mess with one, you mess with the who pack and have been known to make or break commissioned officer's careers. But be warned, if you are a warrant officer that is not deemed worthy, you will be fed to the commissioned officers as an offering.

In other services, the pilots have to stay in nice lodging wherever they go and scorn anything less than a four star hotel. In the Army, the warrant officer pilots get a GP medium and brag they don't have to sleep on the ground. If given the opportunity to stay in something with four solid walls and a roof, they constantly worry about when someone will come in and tell them there was a mistake and be told to move. Because of that, they never unpack their bags.
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SMSgt Mark Miller
SMSgt Mark Miller
1 y
The Air Force has been mentioned a couple times, sort of "in passing" [a flyby?]. Just some background on the AF and Warrant Officers -- the AF inherited WO's in 47 from the Army, but the AF didn't never established a clear understanding of their role. On 1959-60 the top two enlisted ranks were established. Although not acknowledged for many years, AF leadership decided the new E-8 and E-9 "super" grades could fulfill the duties then being performed by the warrant officers. With the decision, the AF designated these ranks as "superintendents" instead of following the Army and Marine practice of calling them "staff or senior" NCOICs. There was some discussion within the larger AF about on 2017. That year's National Defense Authorization Act included a request from Congress to evaluate restoring WOs as a solution to the pilate shortage. They AF determined that it would not. One factor contributing to the shortage is a lack of cockpits for the current pilots and flight time restrictions imposed by budget shortfalls.
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CW4 Brian Haas
CW4 Brian Haas
11 mo
You REALLY think Warrant officers aren’t eating their own? Man, unfortunately, the days of the Wolfpack tend to be gone. Very few good senior warrants that are actually looking out for the Warrants anymore. They tend to be more worried about their next rank and making CWOB.
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LCDR Keith Trepanier
LCDR Keith Trepanier
11 mo
CW4 Brian Haas - I wrote this over a year ago and I left the Army many years before that. I can only speak of my own experience.
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CW4 William Kessinger
CW4 William Kessinger
9 mo
Except in my day it was WOPA (warrant officer protection association) a fictional organization to protect each other (warrants).
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LtCol Robert Quinter
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Edited >1 y ago
My understanding is it was originally the Army's way of working around the congressional restrictions on the number of officers between the O-1 and O-4 as well as the advantage of having a Warrant specializing in flight duties without being distracted by other duties associated with the O ranks. Warrants were also paid less base and flight pay until the 70s. They also had a faster and more responsive fill rate than the O officers.
I don't know the current status, but during VN their was also a difference in the training level, with the Warrants not getting some of the advanced training provided to other pilots and aviators (instruments)
All that aside, Warrant Officer pilots have proven their skill, bravery and dedication since they were established after WWII
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CPT Clifford Simpson
CPT Clifford Simpson
>1 y
When I went through Army rotary wing flight school in early 1968, officers and warrant officer candidates received identical flight training. That continued at least through 1969 when I served as a flight instructor at Fort Rucker.
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Sgt Dan Catlin
Sgt Dan Catlin
11 mo
Ya'll don't mean to tell me it's all driven by POLITICS!? Who'd of thought that ...
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LTC Jason Mackay
LTC Jason Mackay
11 mo
CPT Clifford Simpson - flight school I see flight school. Airframe training is airframe training. The O grades fly then become staff officers, go to non-flight assignments, and commanders. The Warrants fly their whole career, for the most part.

Pilots are pilots.
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CW2 Fred Baker
CW2 Fred Baker
10 mo
I graduated from flight school in September 1969 and the training for Warrants was identical as for Officers. After 'Nam, I found that extra qualifications became available, more so for Warrants. I loved being a Warrant and I don't regret it one bit.
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