The concept and function of Warrant Officer in the U.S. Military is often misunderstood. A warrant officer in today's U.S. Military serves as a technical expert for specific weapons or essential equipment, ranging from Huey Cobra helicopters to complicated medical technologies.
WARRANT OFFICER VS. JUNIOR LINE OFFICER
A warrant officer is a separate position from a junior line officer.
Junior line officers are generalists and command enlisted troops. Warrant officers are unmatched experts in their fields. They have specific technical duties in a chain that is different from the line officer corps
The rank of Warrant Officer originated in the British navy when enlisted experts helped royal commanders who were not knowledgeable about sailing. Those experts became so valuable they were rewarded with a Royal Warrant to recognize their value, and the title "Warrant Officer."
While a warrant officer's technical duties are more specific than line officers, the similarity is that warrant officers are commissioned by the U.S. president, as are other line officers.
WARRANT OFFICERS ARE EXPERTS IN THEIR FIELD
A Warrant Officer's expertise must be exhaustive and up-to-date. It can take a lifetime of study and experimentation to gain the field-specific knowledge required of a warrant officer, and the learning process continues as the technologies change and advance.
A military warrant officer may spend his or her entire career learning about a specific technology and training others.
WARRANT OFFICER SELECTION AND TRAINING
The process of selecting and training a warrant officer in the US Army differs from other services.
The U.S. Army selects and trains personnel for the warrant officer position directly after basic training is completed; other services promote personnel to Warrant Officer based on years of service.
Branches of the Armed Forces train warrant officers at bases around the country. After training, each warrant officer is mobile and ready to serve anywhere in the world.
IDENTIFYING A WARRANT OFFICER
The army has five numerically arranged grades of warrant officer ranks. The differences in rank can be identified by markings on their uniforms.
The insignia can be identified as one or two bars for lieutenants and captains, oak leaves for majors or lieutenant colonels, eagles for colonels, and stars for generals.
Line officers often wear their rank insignia on their collars or shoulders, and enlisted personnel wear their insignia on their sleeves. Warrant officers wear their insignia in the same position as the line officers. Enlisted men and women wear their rank insignia on their sleeves, usually as a set of stripes.