Posted on Jun 22, 2015
GySgt Warehouse Chief (3051)
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Marine Corps Reservist here. I'm in a position in my career where I can go either warrant officer in the SMCR or commission in another reserve component branch.

However at 35, I don't like the idea of being a butter bar after 13-years of enlisted service. I like the idea of a warrant officer because of the respect that comes with the rank. People know you went through the ranks on the enlisted side first. However, I also don't like the idea of ranking under a butter bar.

I've looked at the DFAS pay chart and I can see that if I at least make it to CWO4 and retire with 30-years of service, I will make a little more than an 04. Basically, if I commission or go warrant and serve up to 30-years, I will make a very similar paycheck for retirement. I will just be forced to retire after 30-years as a warrant where I will be able to serve another 9-years (up to the age of 60) as a commissioned officer.

I'm just throwing facts and figures here. Not really sure how long I want to continue serving. I just know I'm not done yet. But with bachelors and masters degree, I don't want to stay enlisted.

The big question is who has a better life? I've heard that as a warrant, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds (enlisted and officer) whatever that means, whereas a commissioned officer will deal with more stress and politics.

I just want to get some feedback, what your feelings are, etc.
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COL Charles Williams
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Edited 4 y ago
The Marines and Army are different. But, in the Army Officers are generalists, leaders, managers, and Commanders.... whereas Warrant Officers are technical experts in their chosen field. They are leaders too, but in most cases they are more technical experts vs. leaders, managers or Commanders. It depends on whether you want to be responsible, or want to be an SME. If you want to be a leader, then you want to be an Officer. If you want to be a subject matter or technical expert, and generally not the responsible officer, then that is a warrant officer. My vote would be Officer. I suspect Warrant Officers will say otherwise...

I spent 4 years an enlisted guy... SGT, before I went to OCS in 1984-85.
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COL Charles Williams
COL Charles Williams
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CW2 (Join to see) - I think you wanted to respond to GySgt (Join to see)?
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CW3 Kevin Storm
CW3 Kevin Storm
4 y
There are a couple of exception in there Sir where Warrants will always be Commanders: Bands and Boats.
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COL Charles Williams
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CWO5 Marco Spencer
CWO5 Marco Spencer
>1 y
Warrant can and do lead detachments.. If you were squared away and were respected as a NCO or SNCO and want to remain in your field then put in your warrant package.. You have to ask yourself what is your ultimate goal.. Cross every I and cross every T or be a working supervisor..Remenber.. For every Good officer there was an outstanding SNCO that trained that officer..
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LT Intelligence
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Edited 4 y ago
Addressing the age portion of your concerns. There is a specific USNR DIRCOM program for SUPPO which you may find interesting given your current MOS. If you were to look into the DIRCOM program you would find that a large number of newly commissioned O-1's are prior service as well as near, if not older, than your current age. I personally know reserve O-1's who came into service at 40 and they integrate in perfectly fine. Because its the reserve side as well its assumed that you're more than your rank given relevant civilian work experience that many reservists bring to the table.

Mustangs, especially in the Navy, are very highly respected. As an older O-1E you are generally kept in high regard by the enlisted as you have been in their shoes and understand the unique challenges which face them. Senior officers will look to you for your experiences and maturity and there is certainly a certain bond that exists due to age. Last but not least you would be looked to by the non-prior/younger O-1's as a mentor who, due to being the same rank as them, is far more approachable and less scary than a Chief or a higher ranking O.

I think you should give it some thought and don't let the age issue affect you too much. If you're still looking to serve then you should be proud and own it in whatever capacity you choose.
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CPT Battalion Physician Assistant
CPT (Join to see)
4 y
I have had the exact same experience with the National Guard having accepted a commission as an O-2E, after 7 years enlisted. I love being a 'Mustang,' and have been treated very well.
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CDR Terry Boles
CDR Terry Boles
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I spent nearly 17 years Navy enlisted both active duty and reserves. I commissioned into the Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant on active duty, still active to this day, at the ripe old age of 40. Even though I commissioned into a different branch of service I was still held at a higher regard than many of my senior officers I worked with. In fact my Flight Commander told me he kept thinking of me as a Major and as a consequence he made me the deputy OIC over senior officers to me, that just doesn't happen.

I gave thought when I hit the E-7 board about warrant but I knew, as stated elsewhere here, to truly experience the full life of an officer the only way was to go commissioned. The type of leadership and responsibility is unmatched when comparing a warrant officer who is suppose to be looked upon at the SME.

It's a no brainier, you will regret not giving yourself more opportunity if you go warrant. Remember this as it may help you decide....THE FUTURE LEADERS OF YOUR BRANCH OF SERVICE ARE COMMISSIONED OFFICERS, no one else. No disrespect to warrant officers but which club do you want to be in and considered a member of during and after your career?
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MAJ Signal Officer
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4 y
CDR Terry Boles - Wow you are right on the money. With that last statement: "The type of leadership and responsibility is unmatched when comparing a warrant officer who is suppose to be looked upon at the SME."
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LCDR Vice President
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The reason I chose a unrestricted line commission over a warrant is because I wanted to Command at Sea. As far as being a "Butter Bar" the fact that I was prior and a Chief I did not have a problem with respect. I think in the end people really respect the person not just the rank.

I did wear my dress khakis a lot to meeting where people did not know me so they would see my ribbon bar because I was always asked to "play up" so sometimes O-6s would be like "who is this guy" but with my ribbons on they knew I was speaking from experience.

I am not sure I follow you on the pay issue a W-4 does not make as much as a O-4 plus if you stay to 30 there is a good chance you will retire as an O-5. So as a retired O-4 I make over $500 more a month in retirement pay then if I would have gone Warrant, if I would have stayed to 30 I would have made O-5 and that would have added another $600+ in retirement.

But in the end the decision between Warrant and Commission depends on a lot of things like what you want to do. As a Warrant or LDO you will stay in your field. Some of the most important people on the ships I served were the Warrants because hands down no one knew their job better. They were practitioners with decades under their belt in the job. That is where the respect come from not what bar you have on your uniform.
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CWO4 Assistant Maintenance Officer
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A CWO4 at 30 does make a little more than an O4 at 30. Not much, but more.
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SMSgt Lawrence McCarter
SMSgt Lawrence McCarter
>1 y
or sure, as a Ensign or 2nd Lt with prior enlisted service, it shows in ribbons of course the background but maturity and confidence based on Your experience is apparent also. There has always been a great deal of respect for Officers that rose through that route and I feel always will be for those "Mustangs" 01 is a short stop on the route to 02, 03 and above anyway. Yes, it is the line Officer in the Navy that has the opportunity to rise to command and make policy.
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