Posted on Oct 27, 2013
Lt Col U.S. Federal Government
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First some background, the U.S. Air Force stopped producing Warrant Officers approximately four decades ago; in light of upcoming force structure changes, do you think that it is realistic to them back? If so, what are some of the associated pros and cons to consider? Has the Air Force suffered, is it better off... or does it even matter? The idea here is to begin an inter-service discussion on the merits of Warrant Officers in the AF, and in light of reducing budgets and change throughout the ranks, do we need to consider bringing them back? There's no right or wrong answers here, just an informed discussion on possibilities and precedents. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, so pull up a keyboard and let's get this thing started, thanks for all that you do, and... see you all in the discussion threads!
Edited >1 y ago
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CW4 Glen Nardin
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Edited >1 y ago
This thread has been alive for a few months, but this is this first I've noticed, so please excuse if I'm repeating what others have added. As a retired CW4 I would have a ton to add on this, but let me make a couple important statements regarding any potential return of warrants.

1. Before the question of "if" warrants would be returned to AF duty, the AF must define their place in the chain of command. Warrants in US military are commissioned officers. That, there, is a mouthful. I was a commander for 13 years, from W1-W4. How does a warrant position affect the rating system, the chain of command, and is the AF unified on that decision? I ask this because despite major advances in understanding the role of warrant officers in the Army, that point is still being debated.

2. A warrant officer is a technically and tactically trained officer, specializing in areas of expertise and often employed as advisors to the commander and team leaders of critical units. Warrants are not "3rd lieutenants," senior-senior enlisted" or "cheap" officers for 66% of the cost of O-grade officers-- all of which are the misguided views that warrants often have to guard against.

If the Air Force was to bring back the W1-W5 ranks in order to be a force multiplier, all these things have to be clarified from "Top down."
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SSgt Matthew Ward
SSgt Matthew Ward
1 y
Glen, I agree those points should be clarified upon reinstating these ranks, but that is not what is in question here. The question is if there is a need for warrant officer at all. An investigation should be made to determine if the need for reinstating the WO ranks is great enough to justify the cost of doing so. At that point in time the decision to reinstate them would be made, THEN your points would be clarified to fit the needs of the AF.
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LTC Dick Welch
LTC Dick Welch
10 mo
Senior enlisted cost less than warrants and many have degrees so the Army can follow the AF lead and get rid of the 15000 warrants
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MSgt Paul Connors
MSgt Paul Connors
19 d
LTC Dick Welch - Uhhh no! Terrible idea! Typical field grade response. Do you have a problem with WOs, LTC DICK WELCH?
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MSgt Paul Connors
MSgt Paul Connors
18 d
SMSgt Lawrence McCarter - I believe he retired in 1990 and from the AFRES. He was not on active duty when he retired. He was later honorarily promoted to CWO-5. He has since passed away.
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SGT Thomas Sullivan
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True story, down in MacDill AFB, I was lucky enough to meet one of the few surviving retired AF warrant officers. This conversation came up with him while talking with a few fellow soldiers and airman at a "getting out" meeting.<br><br>The general consensus at least from people working in STRATCOM and Missidle/Space is that we have too many young Air Force Officers filling roles that could and probably should be filled by enlisted and warrant officer roles. Especially in the satellite control and missile control fields.<br><br>Giving Enlisted members in the airforce a chance to fly as warrants I think would also be an excellent tool at retaining some very good skillsets in the military.<br>
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SPC Mike Davis
SPC Mike Davis
3 mo
SP5 David Scott - There were indeed Sgt pilots in WW-II. Gen. Yeager was one, Bob Hoover was also an enlisted pilot. Now...to why there are no warrants in the Air Force. The truth is hard to find, but, is there if you look for it. NCO pilots were hated and I do mean hated by commissioned officers during World War-2. These loyal and patriotic officers were more concerned about enlisted pilots than they were about winning the war. Threir complaints were so loud (at a time of national emergency and very desperate hours.) It even reached the president's desk. Who asked "could we not make them (enlisted) 3rd Lt.'s? So the position of "flight officer," was created. A flight officer was a warrant officer. Enlisted with a warrant. Needless to say this position continued throughout the war. Some were always sgt's, some flight officer (warrants) and some commissioned. This social breach (enlisted/warrant pilots) was more than commissioned officers could stand. A sgt/warrant a PIC/ flight commander/Sq. commander! Was, to an officer a situation that was unacceptable. Thus, when the Air Force was formed as a separate branch. No warrants/enlisted pilots were ever appointed. And that is why no warrants are in the Air Force to this day. It is an outrageous social challenge to the aristocratic hoity-toity commissioned officer. What I have posted here is historical truth. Look it up.
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MSgt Paul Connors
MSgt Paul Connors
19 d
TSgt Kerry Hardy - Addressed as MR. MS. Sir or Ma'am. After CW2 they are commissioned by the President, just like commissioned officers.
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MSgt Paul Connors
MSgt Paul Connors
19 d
SPC Mike Davis - Your narrative is not completely correct David. I am a retired AF Historian and was the first LEE ARBON Scholar of Enlisted History at Maxwell AFB. Yes, there were SGT pilots at the beginning of WW2 and most were later commissioned, especially once they arrived in theater. As the Aviation Cadet programs grew, the T O & Es for each graduating class of Pilots, NAVs, Bombardiers required X % be commissioned and Y % be appointed Flight Officers. During WW 2 there were only two grades of WO in the Army and USAAF. Group Commanders had the ability to commission FOs after six months service in theater and many did. Some did not due to a dislike for a certain individual so there was subjective judgment involved.

At war's end the USAAF, soon to be USAF stopped creating FOs and relegated existing WOs and CWOs to non-flying roles where they continued to serve until 1980 when the last active duty WO retired out of McGuire AFB, NJ. The last USAF Reserve CWO-4 Bob Barrow retired from the service in 1990 (and has since passed away).

The reason the USAF does not have a WO corps at this time is because the Air Staff in 1958 SECRETLY decided to do away with WOs with the introduction of what were then the two enlisted supergrades of E8 and E9. The bomber and fighter generals of the day never really understood (or cared to try to) how WOs would fit into the AF hierarchy and also decided that the SMSGTs and CMSGTs could do all the jobs WOs did. They also didn't want to lose commissioned slots to pay for WOs.

This is what actually happened and has been publicly revealed to be factual by the Air Staff just as the Air Staff secretly made a decision during Vietnam that NO enlisted Member of the USAF would receive the Medal of Honor BEFORE an aircrew commissioned officer did in any future conflict. That decision has since been rescinded.

Senior AF leadership, to include the current SECAF, HEATHER WILSON (a USAFA alum) still oppose WO appointments for the USAF in what I consider to be selfish, dishonest and self-serving ways and with the most inane and stupid excuses that insults the average person's intelligence.
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SPC Mike Davis
SPC Mike Davis
19 d
MSgt Paul Connors - Sounds like the commissioned Air force is still at it. Good men were dying in Europe and Pacific for lack of air cover and the commissioned officers in the early 1940's were doing all they could to stop enlisted pilots. Shameful that no action was taken against these sorry commissioned brutes!
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MSgt Edbm, Section Chief
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I have always been a supporter of bringing them back. We could cut some company grade officer slots and move a select few SNCOs into the WO ranks. I think this would be particularly good for Maintenance Officers. The Cons would be based on who was looking at it. For Os it would be changing up the status quo. For Es it would remove some top level jobs from SNCOs that wouldn't become WOs.
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LT Regional Practice Manager, Hwsl
LT (Join to see)
>1 y
Are there any high level talks discussing the possibility of bringing them back?
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Maj John Graham
Maj John Graham
>1 y
@Kilar, I think the operative words are "...technically-oriented manager." First, the Air Force needs less managers and more leaders but thats an old drum beat. Second, WO's in UAV positions would not be filling the role of managers. For example, maintenance SNCO's do not need to know how to fix a certain piece of equipment but are more concerned about the management of the lower ranking E's. WO's would be in the role of an operator/worker bee/pilot/journeyman versus a manager. They would wear the rank in recognition of technical knowledge and ability. The AF would continue to have O's filling the roles of managers/CC's and could continue to maintain SNCO's to manage the enlisted sensor operators.

As an aside, I have met many SNCO's who came into the sensor operator career field late in their careers who believe due to their rank deserve undue respect. Anyone in a flying career field can attest that rank does not constitute ability.
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SMSgt Lawrence McCarter
SMSgt Lawrence McCarter
>1 y
Maj John Graham - I hadn't thought about it in that light, You have a very valid point Sir. You did get Me thinking.
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MSgt John McGowan
MSgt John McGowan
10 mo
Maj John Graham - Sir I do and do not agree with you on one of your statements. As a maintenance NCO back in the day and as a lifelong maintenance type I think a SNCO's job needs to be more detailed than just manageing lower ranked enlisted. I have faced a lot of more SNCO's and maintenance officers than I care to remember over technical issues where I had to know just how and what my equipment was suppose to do. In my civilian career where I had a supervisor ( Navel Academny) tell me to change a 40 HP motor when I knew it wasn't bad but several electricians told him it was bad. The supervisor trusted me but he ended up asking me to change the motor, which I did. To make my point, I knew the equipment but he didn't. I was the expert but didn't have the horses to change anything. Good for sometimes heated discussions.
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