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Warrant officer

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A warrant officer is a military rank, usually (approximately) subordinate to commissioned officers and superior to NCOs.

The warrant officer corps began in the 13th century in the nascent British Royal Navy. At that time, nobles assumed command of the new Navy, adopting the Army ranks of Lieutenant and Captain. These officers often had no knowledge of life on board a ship, let alone how to navigate such a vessel or operate the guns, and relied on the expertise and cooperation of a senior sailor who tended to the technical aspects of running the ship and operating the cannons. These sailors became indispensable to less-experienced officers and were rewarded with a Royal Warrant. This Warrant was a special designation, designed to set them apart from other sailors, yet not violate the strict class system that was prevalent during the time.

British Army

In the British Army, a warrant officer is a senior non-commissioned officer. A Company Sergeant Major[?] is a WO2 (Warrant Officer, Second Class). A Regimental Sergeant Major is a WO1 (Warrant Officer, First Class). WO1 is the highest rank attainable by a non-commissioned officer.

United States

In the United States, a warrant officer is a highly specialized, single-track specialty officer. They receive their authority (warrant) from the Secretary of their service upon their initial appointment, but upon promotion to chief warrant officer, they are commissioned by the President of the United States, and thus derive their authority from the same source as commissioned officers. Warrant officers can and do command detachments, units, activities, and vessels as well as lead, coach, train, and counsel subordinates. As leaders and technical experts, they provide valuable skills, guidance, and expertise to commanders and organizations in their particular field. Even when commissioned, they remain specialists, in contrast to commissioned officers, who are generalists.

A warrant officer's benefits and privileges are roughly comparable to those of a junior commissioned officer.

The United States Air Force does not currently have warrant officers, but they exist in the other branches of the United States armed forces.

In the U.S. Navy, warrant officers are technical specialists whose skills and knowledge were an essential part of the proper operation of the ship. Based on the British model, the U.S. Navy has had warrant officers among its ranks, in some form or another, since December 23, 1775, when John Berriman received a warrant to act as purser aboard the brig USS Andrea Doria[?]. That warrant was considered a patent of trust and honor but was not considered a commission to command.

The US Marine Corps has warranted officers since 1916 as technical specialists who perform duties that require extensive knowledge, training and experience with particular systems or equipment. Their duties and responsibilities are of a nature beyond those required of senior noncommissioned officers. Marine Corps warrant officers provide experience and stability in the officer ranks in critical specialty areas. The primary purpose for warrant officers is to create and maintain a selected body of personnel with special knowledge of a particular military specialty.

The U.S. Army warrant officer is the highly specialized expert and trainer who, by gaining progressive levels of expertise and leadership, operates, maintains, administers, and manages the Army’s equipment, support activities, or technical systems for an entire career. The Army program began with the warranted Headquarters Clerk in 1896.

United States Insignia

The US Air Force has no warrant officers.
Paygrade and Rank Army Navy/CG Marine Corps
W1:
Warrant Officer 1
no such rank
W2: Chief
Warrant Officer 2
W3: Chief
Warrant Officer 3
W4: Chief
Warrant Officer 4
W5: Chief
Warrant Officer 5
no such rank



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