Warrant officers, the quiet professionals?

Commentary by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Turner, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade

Kentucky’s first combined officer and warrant officer graduating class

Kentucky National Guardsmen swear in as new warrant officers at the state capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 20, 2011. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Oliver)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting the Warrant Officer Career College at Fort Rucker, Alabama, you will notice a sign at your feet as you enter the building that reads “Quiet Professional.”  That cannot be further from the truth in today’s Warrant Officer Corps.

The evolution of the Warrant Officer Corps has stemmed much debate about our role as highly adaptable technical experts, leaders, and mentors.

Today’s Army warrant officer is still looked upon by their commander for the technical answer.  However, a warrant officer’s role extends well beyond just supporting their commander in their field of expertise.  They serve as guideposts for enlisted Soldiers, at both the junior and senior level.  This is where mentorship becomes a very important role for the warrant officer.

We must constantly be looking for highly motivated and knowledgeable Soldiers who are dedicated to lifelong learning in their field of expertise.  Those are the types of Soldiers we are looking for to enter our Warrant Officer Corps.

In sales, the best lead comes from the buyer or satisfied customer.  There are currently 145 warrant officers in our ranks.  The Command Chief Warrant Officer, Chief Warrant Officer 5 James Simms looks upon each of those warrant officers, or satisfied customers, to find eligible Soldiers who have the potential to become a warrant officer too.

With over 7,400 members currently serving in the Kentucky Army National Guard, the Warrant Officer Corps in Kentucky certainly does not make up the majority.   Even so, the Warrant Officer Corps’ strength is not is numbers but in technical knowledge, and their ability to lead Soldiers and advise the commander in their individual skill.

Warrant Officer logo

Army warrant officers have officially been around since 1918. Originally designated as Army mine planters, the career field has constantly expanded to include technical and aviation warrants in the modern service. The Kentucky Army National Guard currently has 146 warrant officers serving the Commonwealth.

Today’s warrant officer is part of the command staff, attending all staff meetings where they can certainly offer vast knowledge and understanding through their progressive assignments and experience.   Typically, the senior enlisted leadership and the warrant officer(s) stay in place while commanders transition through the unit.  This offers the continuity needed to allow continued growth of the unit’s mission and the Soldier’s within it.

The demands put on Soldiers today are much stricter than the recent past.  However, the experiences the average Soldier has gained through military schools, various assignments, and, let us not forget, multiple deployments, has allowed so much opportunity for growth within our ranks.

Who could have predicted that the Kentucky Army National Guard would have Soldiers who are 25 years old with three deployments?  That experience is largely what makes an excellent warrant officer.  It all comes down to experience.

Kentucky’s Warrant Officer Corps also offers a great balance between younger Soldiers and older Soldiers.  Often, senior leaders depict the warrant officer as a Soldier who joined the military before they were born.  Although we have plenty of senior warrant officers in our ranks, you will now see a better mix of age and experience as a whole.   This is mostly due to the growth of the warrant officer positions within Kentucky.

When we first stood up the warrant officer strength management position in Kentucky, there were less than 60 warrant officers and just over 100 authorizations.  Now, there are over 190 warrant officer authorizations with 146 total warrant officers in the Kentucky Army National Guard.   Due to the fact that almost 50% of the current warrant officers in Kentucky can retire, we are constantly recruiting and looking for their future replacement.

After serving for 24 years in the Army National Guard, 17 of those years in recruiting, I have never seen this much opportunity within the Kentucky Army National Guard.  There are no limits to how far you can take your career.  Whether your goal is to become the State Command Sergeant Major, the Command Chief Warrant Officer, or the Adjutant General, the limits only lie within yourself and your goals.

If you want more information on the Warrant Officer Program, please contact Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Turner.

Office: (502) 607-6200

Cell: (502) 320-3653

Ryan.turner2@usarec.army.mil

About kentuckyguard