The Army warrant officer community is experiencing an array of changes, with increased opportunities and responsibilities, but that will include greater requirements for education to win promotions, a panel of senior warrant officers said Oct. 23.
The panel of CWO5s from the active force and the Army Reserve also urged their fellow warrants to seek more responsibility and remember that they are officers, not just aviators or technicians.
But the speakers at the seminar on Warrant Officer Professional Development also warned that because the Army is getting smaller, after years of growth that saw a substantial increase in the number of warrant officer, promotions are slowing down.
Those were the highlight of the seminar presented at the second day of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual Conference and Exposition at the Washington Convention Center.
“Things have changed from when many of us became warrant officers,” CWO5 Ronald Galloway, the warrant officer advisor to the Army Chief of Staff, said. He noted that all five of the priorities included in Gen. Raymond Odierno’s new “marching orders” fit within the on-going drive to improve the WO cohort.
“We are at the forefront of many changes,” Galloway said. “Do not wait to be told what to do,” but show initiative.
CWO5 David Wilson, who works training issues in the Army G-3/5/7 office, emphasized Gen. Odierno’s priorities on developing leader and the future force, telling the audience professional development means the Army must develop quality leaders at all levels, and that is something the Army wants from its warrant officers. And, he added, “we are part of that overall force development process.”
As part of the Army’s increased emphasis on training and education, Wilson said policies under development will require professional military education (PME) for promotion eligibility.
A recent study showed that 39 percent of the active duty warrants did not have the level of PME recommended for their grade. “We are going to link PME to promotion,” he said.
At the same time, the Army is reevaluating the content of its PME courses to make it relevant to the changed environment, Wilson said.
And, he added, warrants will be required to pass the annual physical training tests, and no longer will be able to seek waivers for the two-mile run.
Instead they would have to request an “exemption from policy,” which will be harder to get.
CWO5 Arland Jackson, who works officer development programs in the Army G-1 office, noted that the warrant officer community grew rapidly during the Army’s buildup to handle the deployment demands of Iraq and Afghanistan. During that time, promotions for warrants became easier. That will change as the Army cuts about 80,000 soldiers, he said.
“You can expect some turbulence,” Jackson said.
According to Galloway, there are 27,437 warrant officers in the active Army. That represents 2.4% of all active duty soldiers and 15.3 percent of the officer corps. Forty percent of those are in aviation, with ordnance, quartermaster, intelligence and signal among the other large communities.
CWO5 Phyllis Wilson, the command chief warrant officer for the Army Reserve, urged the warrants to remember that they are officers and leaders, not just technicians.
“As warrant officer roles expand, so do opportunities,” Wilson said, and urged her fellow warrants to seek additional PME and other opportunities to enhance their qualifications.