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What is an Army Warrant Officer?

By Jason C. Chavis
Updated Feb 04, 2024
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An Army Warrant Officer is a grade level of a soldier within the United States military. This Army officer rank is positioned above enlisted soldiers and below full-fledged officers. Generally, they are among the highest skilled soldiers in the Army, focusing on specific tasks which require increased attention to detail. Within the military, Army Warrant Officers are usually focused on technical professions.

The rank grade of an Army Warrant Officer is W-1 to W-5. This puts them in command of all enlisted personnel and officer cadets. The highest ranking Army Warrant Officer, however, is positioned just below the grade of O-1, the first pay grade for a regular commissioned officer. Despite this separation, he or she is treated similar to a regular officer and is required to take the same oath. Enlisted personnel can become an Army Warrant Officer after attaining the rank of Sergeant, graded E-5. He or she is recognized by the title of “Chief,” otherwise simply as “Mister” or its feminine equivalent.

Those applying to become an Army Warrant Officer must attend specialized training at the Warrant Officer Career College. This is located at Fort Rucker, Alabama or, in the case of Army National Guard, the training is conducted at the various regional training institutes around the country. Basic training into the skills, leadership and applications are taught and once the candidate graduates, he or she must move on to receive even more specialized training to focus technical expertise. Additional training can also be conducted at the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

An Army Warrant Officer are designed to provide the military with tactical and technical leadership. All the branches of service, from Active Duty to the Army Reserve, feature the position. Even the Pentagon staffs Warrant Officers, often as a headquarters clerk. This particular grade of soldier can be found in every theater of combat or defense around the world as well.

Prior to World War I, the duties held by the position were often handled by civilians working as contractors for the military. As the US entered the conflict, Congress and the Army Judge Advocate General realized the importance of adding this rank and grade to the standard operating procedures of the Army. This was further refined during World War II, eventually becoming the system used by the military today. The importance of Army Warrant Officers became even more prevalent during the Cold War and its aftermath.

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Discussion Comments
By anon275716 — On Jun 19, 2012

An Army Warrant Officer is now commissioned when promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 2 and executes the Oath of Commissioning. Make no mistake: a Chief Warrant Officer 2, 3, 4 or 5 has the authority of a Second Lieutenant.

Legislation is currently in effect to authorize commissioning as soon as a Warrant Officer 1 graduates from their technical certification/flight training course.

By matthewc23 — On Jan 11, 2012

@stl156 - The official Army classification is as follows and until one becomes an Officer, not a Warrant Officer they use the E classification to determine rank.

A Private is an E-1, which has its own classifications inside itself, followed by Corporal, Specialist, and Sergeant, with the Warrant Officers immediately following which have five ranks inside itself.

Above Warrant Officers are the Lieutenants followed by Captains, Majors, Colonials, and then Generals all of which except for Captains have their own rankings inside themseleves to distinguish which person of that rank is higher.

Warrant Officers can be considered lower forms of officers just below the Lieutenants and above the non officers just above Sergeant level.

By stl156 — On Jan 11, 2012

I was wondering exactly what the Army ranks are so I could get an idea as where Warrant Officers are in regards to their rank.

I am aware that Generals are the highest rank and Privates are the lowest and there are different classifications for each rank, but where do Warrant Officers exactly fit in?

I have always though Sergeant was a high rank, but apparently it is not as high as I thought and I know a Sergeant is not an officer so where does the lesser know rank among everyday people of Warrant Officer fit in?

By Emilski — On Jan 10, 2012

@JimmyT - To be totally honest it is a mixture of all that you said.

Warrant Officers require specialized training and they are not necessarily official officers of the Army, but they are a lot higher up than the lower grades in the Army.

A lot of Warrant Officers are former Specialists or E 4's as you put it and they become Warrant Officers to simply rise up in the ranks and become more specialized.

Even though Warrant Officers are not necessarily officers they are well respected members of rank in the Army and they are above various other ranks like Corporal or Specialist and sometimes work in conjunction with the lower ranking officers on various issues.

By JimmyT — On Jan 09, 2012

I have heard of Warrant Officers and never really understood exactly what it was they were.

I understand that they are considered specialists in the Army and I would naturally assume that they were experienced soldiers in the Army and that they are above the grade of E 4, which is considered a Specialist.

One question I have that are Warrant Officers simply officer forms of the specialist in the E 4 classification or are they a completely different type of soldier all together that does not advance into the grade of Warrant Officer unless they decide to become one?

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