Military Training Main Page US Military Training Main Page

This article is organised as follows:

  • Part 01: Introduction to US Army Warrant Officers.
  • Part 02: Training Hierarchy.
  • Part 03: Entry Standards and Applications.
  • Part 04: Training of US Army Warrant Officers.
  • Part 05: Miscellaneous.


1.0     Introduction

“Officers (including warrant officers) hold their grade and office under a commission issued under the authority of the President of the United States or the Secretary of the Army.” (DA, 2012, p.2-1).

This article provides an overview of the selection and training of the United States (US) Army’s Warrant Officers’.

In the America model of armed forces, the five ranks of warrant officer are classed as officers above the senior enlisted ranks and officer candidates (e.g. cadets and midshipmen), but subordinate to the commissioned officer grade of O‑1 (OF-1) or Second Lieutenant.

The American model differs from the British Army [LINK], commonwealth, and other military organisations, where warrant officers are the most senior of the other ranks (OR‑8 and OR‑9) and considered equivalent to the American grades of E‑8 and E‑9 (e.g. Sergeant Major).

Whilst the various ranks of warrant officer are authorised by the US Congress, each branch of military service (with the exception of the US Navy which stopped appointing warrant officers in 1959) selects, manages, and utilises warrant officers in a slightly different manner.

For appointment to warrant officer one (WO1), a warrant is approved by the secretary of the respective service. For the chief warrant officer ranks (CW2 to CW5), warrant officers are commissioned by the President of the United States and take the same oath as regular commissioned officers. Since the 2000s, warrant officers have officially been part of the officer corps of the US Army.

A warrant officer’s primary task, as a leader, is to serve as a technical expert, providing valuable skills, guidance, and expertise to commanders and organisations in their particular field.

“The Army is looking for candidates to fill some of its 45 different warrant officer specialties, including the new military occupational specialty 923A, Petroleum Systems Technician, authorized for Oct. 1 [2017].” (Jarrett, 2017).

The US Army requires approximately 1,200 warrant officer candidates each year (Jarrett, 2017).

This article is divided into five parts for easier reading. Part One is the background which outlines what warrant officers are and what they do, provides a brief history of warrant officers in the US Army and an outline of the WO 2025 strategy. Part Two describes the personnel and organisations that have an impact on warrant recruitment, selection and training. Part Three describes the entry standards and application process. Part Four outlines the training process for warrant officers. Part Five provides a brief summary followed by some useful publications and links, and finally some references.

1.1     Aim

The aim of this article is to describe the fundamental entry requirements, selection process and training for personnel seeking to become a US Army Warrant Officer.

1.2     Warrant Officers: What They Are and What They Do

Warrant officers are usually functionally orientated, possessing a high degree of specialisation in a particular field. This is in contrast to commissioned officers who have a more general assignment pattern, however, they can lead and direct soldiers the same as other officers (in both leadership and staff roles).

As such warrant officers can:

  • Command aircraft, maritime vessels, and special units.
  • Provide quality advice, counsel, and solutions to support their unit/organisation.
  • Maintain, administer, and manager the US Army’s equipment, support activities, and technical systems.
  • Offer extensive professional experience and technical knowledge.
  • Be role models and mentors for junior officers and non-commissioned officers (NCO’s).
  • At higher levels transition from being equipment experts to systems experts.

1.3     Brief History

Warrant Officer (Junior Grade) (1940s)

Warrant officers can trace their lineage to 1896 with the establishment of the civilian Headquarters (HQ) Clerks and Pay Clerks by the US War Department.

The predecessor of the warrant officer was the Army Field Clerk and the Field Clerk (within the Quartermaster Corps), which were authorised by an Act of Congress in August 1916 stating “headquarters clerks shall be known as Army field clerks… [and] … shall be subject to the rules and articles of war” (64th USC, Session I, Ch.418, 1916, p.625). Also within the same law, the grade of military storekeeper was revived “…with the rank, pay, and allowances of a captain, mounted…” for one Charles P. Daly, Chief Clerk in the office of the Quartermaster Corps (64th USC, Session I, Ch.418, 1916, p.625) and “a pay clerk of over thirty-one years’ service, now in active service” could be commissioned “to the grade of first lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps”. (64th USC, Session I, Ch.418, 1916, p.644).

Chief Warrant Officer (1940s)

Special Regulation 41 (dated 19 December 1917) stated that Army Field Clerks and Field Clerks would wear the same uniform as officers, with some differences.

The rank and grade of warrant officer was officially established as a result of the Appropriations Act of 09 July 1918, and further defined in War Department Bulletin 43 (dated 22 July 1918, p.51) which stated:

“ARMY MINE PLANTER SERVICE: That hereafter there shall be in the Coast Artillery Corps of the Regular Army a service to be known as the Army Mine Planter Service, which shall consist, for each mine planter in the service of the United States, of one master one first mate, one second mate, one chief engineer, and one assistant engineer, who shall be warrant officers appointed by and holding their offices at the discretion of the Secretary of War…”

Warrant Officer One (WO1)

In this instance, the term ‘mine planter’ refers to a boat or ship, used to place or ‘plant’ antisubmarine mines.

“Although no warrant officer rank insignia was authorised, a sleeve insignia to identify the job specialities was created by War Department Circular 15 on 17 January 1920.” (Welsh, 2006, p.21).

The sleeve insignia had a three-bladed propeller or foul anchor above the braid, and remained in effect until the Mine Planter Service was abolished on 30 June 1947.

An Act of Congress in 1920 (66th USC, Session II, Ch.227, 1920, p.761) states:

“In addition to those authorized for the Army Mine Planter Service, there shall be not more than one thousand one hundred and twenty warrant officers, including band leaders, who shall hereafter be warrant officers.”

The Secretary of War could appointment individuals from (66th USC, Session II, Ch.227, 1920):

  • Among NCO’s who had at least ten years’ enlisted service;
  • Enlisted men who served as officers of the Army at some time between 06 April 1917 and 11 November 1918, and whose total service in the Army, enlisted and commissioned, amounted to five years;
  • Persons serving or who had served as Army field clerks or field clerks, Quartermaster Corps; and
  • Among persons who served as Army band leaders at some time between 06 April 1917 and 11 November 1918, or enlisted men possessing suitable qualifications.
Chief Warrant Officer Two (CW2)

The Act also stated that no more appointments to Army field clerk or field clerk were to be made, and that warrant officers would rank next below second lieutenants and rank among themselves according to the dates of their respective warrants. Further the Act stated that Coast Artillery Corps would consist of one Chief of Coast Artillery and 1,200 officers “inclusive, the warrant officers of the Army Mine Planter Service as now authorized by law…” (66th USC, Session II, Ch.227, 1920, p.770). The Act was implemented by War Department Bulletin 25 (dated 09 June 1920).

On 21 August 2941, Public Law 230 (77th Congress) created two grades of warrant officer; chief warrant officer; and warrant officer (junior grade). The number of warrant officers could not exceed 1% of the enlisted strength, with the number of chief warrant officers not to exceed 40% of total warrant officers.

A flight officer grade was established on 07 November 1942 by War Department Circular 366 (Public Law 658) with the rank, pay and allowances, provided for a warrant officer, junior grade, but abolished in 1945.

During World War II, the US Army greatly expanded the number of warrant officers, with over 57,000 in 40 different military occupational specialties (MOS). The Warrant Officer Historical Foundation (2015) informs us that “Available records indicate that March 1944 was the date of initial accessions of women into the Warrant Officer Corps.” However, they then go on to state “In 1926, the first two female field clerks became the first female Warrants.” (Warrant Officer Historical Foundation, 2015), down to one by 1933 but increasing to 42 by the end of World War II.

After the war several studies concluded that the army needed warrant officers and proposed appointing them on army needs rather than as a reward for long and faithful service. As such, on 09 May 1947, War Department Circular 118 announced it was seeking legislation to authorise four grades of warrant officer in the army. Initially, the four grades were termed Chief Warrant Officer, Senior Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer First Class, and Warrant Officer. On 28 November 1947, the grades were change to Chief Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer First Class, Warrant Officer Second Class, and Warrant Officer Third Class.

Chief Warrant Officer Three (CW3)

In 1960, Department of the Army (DA) Circular 611-7 was published which formalised the definition of a warrant officer as:

“A highly skilled technician who is provided to fill those positions above the enlisted level which are too specialized in scope to permit the effective development and continued utilization of broadly-trained, branch-qualified commissioned officers.”

The present warrant officer programme was announced on 12 April 1960 and outlined utilisation policies, criteria for selection of warrant officer positions, and instructions for conversion to the current warrant officer MOS system.

In 1968, there were 23 women warrant officers (Warrant Officer Historical Foundation, 2015).

In 1970 there was some anticipation that a change in legislation would create two new additional grades of warrant officer W5 and W6, although this never occurred.

In 1972, a tri-level education system was established which provided formal training at the basic or entry level for warrant officers in 59 MOS, at the intermediate or mid-career level for 53 MOS, and at the advanced level for 27 MOS.

In 1974, the Warrant Officer Division was established in the then Army Personnel Command (PERSCOM, now Human Resources Command (HRC)) to manage warrant officer assignments and professional development – with the exception of Judge Advocate General (JAG) and Army Medical Department (AMEDD) warrant officers.

In 1975, Jennie A. Vallance became the first female warrant officer aviator (Warrant Officer Historical Foundation, 2015).

In 1979, there were 46 women warrant officers (Warrant Officer Historical Foundation, 2015).

The Total Warrant Officer Study (TWOS) is commissioned in 1984, which led to the introduction of a number of substantial changes including a new definition of the warrant officer.

In 1985, DA Pamphlet 600-11 was published which further defined the warrant officer, stating:

“An officer appointed by warrant by the Secretary of the Army, based upon a sound level of technical and tactical competence. The 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.”

Chief Warrant Officer Four (CW4)

Also in 1985, a DA study determined that a warrant officers’ technical expertise alone was not enough to meet the requirements of the army’s current and future doctrine. This finding led the army to begin requiring warrant officers to be proficient in basic tactical and leadership skills.

In 1987, the 99th Congress changed Title 10 USC, Armed Forces, to provide for the commissioning of warrant officers. The primary purpose of the legislation was to standardise the procedures used by the military services to appoint warrant officers. A key provision was that all chief warrant officers received commissions, while warrant officers ones’ continued to be appointed, not commissioned. Congress specified three primary goals of this decision to commission warrant officers:

  • Give warrant officers authority to administer oaths of reenlistment;
  • Designate selected warrant officers as commanding officers, with greater authority to impose non-judicial punishment under Article 15, UCMJ; and
  • Characterise service of commissioned warrant officers as ‘commissioned service’.

On 08 April 1988, a Master Warrant Officer (MWO) insignia was approved by the then Chief of the Army Staff (CAS), designating certain CWO4 as master warrants, the appointment of which required completion of the warrant officer school at Fort Rucker. The first class graduated on 08 December 1988.

On 28 March 1991, the then CAS approved the continued use of the MWO insignia for use by newly designated CW5’s created by WOMA.

The Warrant Officer Management Act (WOMA) was introduced in Congress shortly after the publication of TWOS and signed into law on 05 December 1991, under PL 102–190, and is the current basis for the management of warrant officers on the active duty list. WOMA provided for the management of warrant officers by years of warrant officer service rather than total service, automatic regular army integration at the chief warrant officer three (CW3) level, created the rank of chief warrant officer five (CW5), permitted selective retention and retirement, and eliminated the dual promotion system (previously warrant officers had to be recommended by two different selection boards (temporary and permanent) for promotion to the next higher grade).

In February 1992, the Warrant Officer Leader Development Action Plan (WOLDAP), expanding on TWOS and WOMA, improved warrant officer training, personnel management, and leader development programs by establishing:

  • An accession goal of eight years or less time-in-service for warrant officer candidates; and
  • A comprehensive warrant officer education system consisting of career courses at each grade and also civilian educational attainment (e.g. associate and bachelor’s degrees).
Chief Warrant Officer Five (CW5)

In 1992, Donna Foli became the first woman to be promoted to CW5 (Warrant Officer Historical Foundation, 2015).

In 1995, there were 616 women warrant officers from a “total active duty warrant officer strength of 12338. In the reserve forces the female warrant officer strength was 673 from a reserve forces warrant officer strength of 12857.” (Warrant Officer Historical Foundation, 2015).

In 1999, Field Manual (FM) 6-22 Army Leadership was updated to describe the roles assigned to warrant officers. Also “…at the end of 1999, only about 15,100 warrant officers were serving on active duty in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps (none serve in the Air Force). In contrast, more than 1.1 million enlisted personnel – the group from which warrant officers are drawn – and 200,000 commissioned officers were serving.” (CBO, 2002, p.1).

In 2002, warrant officers composed approximately 2% of the US Army, distributed as follows:

  • Active Army: Just over 11,300 (53%), with just under 5,500 being aviation and just under 400 being Special Forces.
  • Army Reserve: Just under 2,500 (12%).
  • Army National Guard: Just under 7,500 (35%).

In 2004, the US Army Warrant Officers Association published the Code of the United States Army Warrant Officer (2004-04-06).

US Army Air Forces Flight Officer (1940s)

Since August 2006, Special Forces warrant officer candidates (MOS 180A) have undertaken their training via the Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification Course (WOTTC) delivered by the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre & School located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

In 2010, after three years of trial and temporary appointment authority, the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre & School was authorised “…the ability to permanently appoint its warrant officers…” (Chace, 2010). Under this new authority, the first class graduated on 18 May 2010 (Chace, 2010).

By 2016, warrant officers composed just under 3% of the US Army (Powers, 2017).

In 2017, there were just over 40 warrant officer specialties across 13 branches such as artillery, construction, signals, intelligence, human resources, aviation, military police, and maintenance.

In 2018, the US Army celebrated 100 years of the grade of warrant officer.

1.4     Warrant Officer Strategy 2025

Since 1918, the role and purpose of a warrant officer in the US Army has evolved, mainly driven by the concept of management of study – for example, TWOS, WOLDAP, ATLDP-WO and WOCLS. Although this concept served well it was decided, around 2014-15, that a more formalised and coherent strategy was required in order to keep pace with future force objectives.

From this the ‘Army Warrant Officer 2025 Strategy: In Support of Force 2025 and Beyond’ was published in 2016. Known as WO 2025, it was developed and synchronised with a variety of other documents including the Army Operating Concept, Force 2025 and Beyond, Human Dimension Strategy, and Army Leader Development Strategy. Collectively these documents serve as the foundation and guiding principles for the shaping of the warrant officer of the future.

WO 2025 outlines how future warrant officers in the Total Force are accessed, developed, and utilised as they support the force in their highly specialised roles as the army’s systems operators, managers, integrators, and leaders. WO 2025 provides focused strategic thought toward meeting future force objectives, identifies lines of effort to achieve those ends, and identifies additional cohort efforts for supporting army priority investments in education, training, and leader development.


2.0     Introduction

This part of the article describes the organisations that have an impact on the selection and training of warrant officers.

Figure 1 provides a highlight of these organisations and were they fit in relation to one another.

Figure 1: Outline of US Army warrant officer training hierarchy

These organisations are discussed in further detail below.

2.1     US Army Training and Doctrine Command

The US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is led by a General (OF-9), with its headquarters (HQ) at Fort Eustis, Virginia. TRADOC is one of several major US Army Commands.

Simply put, TRADOC is responsible for recruiting, training, and educating the US Army’s soldiers, whether they be enlisted, warrant officer, commissioned officers or certain civilians.

2.2     US Army Recruiting Command

The US Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) is led by a Major General (OF-7), with its HQ located at Fort Knox, Kentucky. It is a sub-organisation of TRADOC.

USAREC is responsible for processing warrant officer applications and conducting accession boards in order to fill the US Army’s ranks with the technical experts that reside within the warrant officer cohort.

2.3     US Army Combined Arms Centre

The US Army’s Combined Arms Centre (USACAC) is led by a Lieutenant General (OF-8), with its HQ at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. USACAC is a sub-organisation of TRADOC.

USACAC is responsible for preparing the US Army and its leaders for current and future threats. In order to accomplish this, USACAC:

  1. Develops and integrates army leader development, doctrine, education, lessons learned, functional training, training support, training development, and proponent responsibilities in order to;
  2. Support mission command and prepare the army to successfully conduct unified land operations in a joint, inter-agency, inter-governmental, and/or multinational environment

2.4     US Army Aviation Centre of Excellence

Fort Rucker, named US Army Aviation Centre of Excellence (USAACE) in 2008, serves as the HQ for US Army aviation. USAACE is led by a Major General (OF-7) and is located at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

While the garrison command manages the daily operations of the Fort Rucker community, the HQ aviation branch develops, coordinates and deploys aviation operations, training and doctrine. The USAACE is part of USACAC.

USAACE HQ staff analyse, assess, provide staff management oversight and recommend for decision all activities affecting army aviation policy, command guidance and the development, implementation and execution of processes to support the command in meeting its mission.

The HQ staff facilitates the coordination and dissemination of army aviation operational concepts, plans, doctrine and training to the USACAC, Army Capabilities Integration Centre, HQ TRADOC, and Deputy Commanding General for Initial Military Training.

The staff also supports USAACE subordinate units in executing command initiatives to include aviation office, warrant officer, NCO and enlisted training, leader development and education, aviation force development, and the development and integration of army aviation capabilities.

The USAACE also hosts various army tenant organisations, for example the US Army’s Warrant Officer Career College.

2.5     US Army Warrant Officer Career College

“Serve as the appointment authority for all warrant officers (except special forces, 180A) appointed to the rank of warrant officer one upon successful completion of the WOCS.” (DA, 2017, p.16).

The US Army’s Warrant Officer Career College (USAWOCC) is led by the Commandant, a Colonel (OF-5), and is located at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

USAWOCC is divided into a number of divisions, with approximately just over 80 staff and faculty members training around 2,000 warrant officer candidates each year.

  • Office of the Commandant:
    • Commandant: Colonel (OF-5).
    • Deputy Commandant: CW5.
    • Programme and Management Assistant.
    • Deputy Assistant Commandant (Army National Guard).
    • Deputy Assistant Commandant (US Army Reserve).
    • S-1.
  • Education and Training Directorate:
    • Director of Education and Training.
    • Quality Assurance.
    • Academic Operations: Chief of Academic Operations; Student Services; WOSSE Director; WOILE Director; and WOCS Director (sometimes known as Candidate Course Directors).
    • Military Arts Division (MAD): Chief military arts; communications and management systems; leadership and professional development; and military history.
    • Military Science Division (MSD): Chief military science; international strategic studies; and joint, interagency and multinational operations.
  • S-2/3 Security/Operations: Branch chief; S-2 Security; and S-3 Operations.
  • S-4 Logistics Support: S-4 and S-4 NCOIC.
  • S-6 Information Management: Branch chief/IMO.
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC):
    • Commander: CW4.
    • Executive Officer: CW3.
    • Chaplain: Captain/Major (OF-2/3).
    • First Sergeant: 1SG.
    • Personnel NCO.
    • HHC TAC: CW3.
  • 1st Warrant Officer Company (1st WOC):
    • Commander: CW4.
    • Executive Officer: CW3.
    • First Sergeant: 1SG.
    • Operations NCO.
    • Senior TAC: One CW3.
    • Primary TAC: One CW2/3.
    • TAC Team: Two to five CW2/3.
    • Senior Mentor: One CW3/4.

The role of the 1st WOC (aka Warrant Officer Candidate School or WOCS) is to train, advise, counsel, and mentor the future of the warrant officer cohort. 1st WOC may deliver training concurrently between one to four classes.

As outlined below, WOCC provides a number of career and professional development courses for warrant officers.

2.5.1     WOCC Career and Professional Development Courses

Warrant officers will attend one or more of the following courses during their career:

  • Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) course:
    • Discussed in Part Three.
  • Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC):
    • The WOBC’s is a branch-specific qualification course that ensures newly appointed warrant officers receive the MOS-specific training and technical certification needed to perform in the MOS at the platoon through brigade levels.
    • Training is performance oriented and focuses on technical skills, leadership, effective communication, unit training, maintenance operations, security, property accountability, tactics, and development of subordinates.
    • The WOCS and WOBC (combined) prepare warrant officers to serve in positions at the WO1 through CW2 level.
  • Warrant Officer Advanced Course (WOAC):
    • The WOAC prepares warrant officers to serve in senior positions at the CW3 level.
    • The WOAC includes two phases: a non-resident common core module and a resident phase, which includes a common core module and MOS-specific module.
    • The Aviation WOAC is not delivered by WOCC.
  • Warrant Officer Intermediate Level Education (WOILE) course (DA, 2016):
    • Prior to September 2014 known as the Warrant Officer Staff Course (WOSC).
    • The WOILE is a branch immaterial resident course which prepares for duty in CW4 grade technician and staff officer positions at battalion and higher levels.
    • Some branches have developed branch-specific follow-on track courses to ensure intermediate level warrant officers receive the latest technical/functional professional military education (PME) within their career field.
    • WOILE consists of:
      • Phase 1: A 48-hour Distance Learning (DL) block of instruction, with 90-days to complete, followed by;
      • Phase 2: A five-week instructional resident portion, delivered at Fort Rucker.
    • Caters for between 15 and 60 candidates per course.
    • Warrant officers are not awarded military education level (MEL) Q until all branch-required phases are complete.
  • Warrant Officer Senior Service Education (WOSSE) course (DA, 2016):
    • Prior to September 2014 known as the Warrant Officer Senior Staff Course (WOSSC).
    • WOSSE is currently the capstone course for warrant officer PME.
    • WOSSE is a branch immaterial resident course which provides master-level professional warrant officers with a broader army level perspective required for assignment to CW5 grade level positions as technical, functional, and branch systems integrators, trainers, and leaders at the highest organisational levels.
    • Some branches have developed branch-specific follow-on track courses to ensure intermediate level warrant officers receive the latest technical/functional PME within their career field.
    • WOSSE consists of:
      • Phase 1: A 48-hour Distance Learning (DL) block of instruction, with 60-days to complete, followed by;
      • Phase 2: A four-week instructional resident portion, delivered at Fort Rucker.
    • Warrant officers are not awarded MEL Q until all branch-required phases are complete.
  • Warrant Officer Professional Development (WOPD) days.

Special Forces warrant officers undertake slightly different training, which is delivered by the Special Forces Warrant Officer Institute (Airborne) (SWCS, 2017, p.42-43):

  • Phase 1: 20-week Special Forces Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification (SFWOTTC) course designed for potential WO1’s.
  • Phase 2: 10-week Special Forces Warrant Officer Advanced Course (SFWOAC) course designed for those in the rank of CW2 or CW3.
  • Phase 3: 7-week Special Forces Warrant Officer Intermediate Level Education (SFWOILE) course designed for those in the rank of CW3 or CW4.

2.5.2     WOCC Primary Assignments

WOCC primary assignments for warrant officers include:

  • Company commander:
    • 1st WOC: 26 warrant officers and 4 enlisted soldiers.
    • HHC.
  • TAC officers.
    • CW2/3.
  • Academic instructors:
    • WOCS instructors: CW3.
    • WOILE instructors: CW3 (P)/4 (P means eligible to be promoted to the next higher rank).
    • WOSSE instructors: CW4/5.
  • Additional assignments:
    • S1/Adjutant.
    • S6/Information management.
    • Department leads for the following academic departments: communications and management systems; leadership; military history; international strategic studies department; and joint, interagency, and multinational operations.

2.5.3     Swartworth Hall

On 07 November 2003, CW5 Sharon T. Swartworth, of the Judge Advocate General Office, died in a downed helicopter. Swartworth Hall, within the USAWOCC building, is dedicated in her name and a wreath is displayed by her memorial, within Swartworth Hall, annually on 07 November each year.

2.6     Centre for the Army Profession and Ethic

The proponent cell of the Centre for Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE) serves as the CAPE liaison for the warrant officer cohort and coordinates with WOCC to develop and provide training, education, and development products for warrant officers in the concepts of the army profession, army ethic, and character development.

CAPE is led by the Director, a Colonel (OF-5), with CAPE being part of the MCCoE, which is in turn part of the USACAC.

CAPE produced a virtual simulation ‘Highly Specialized, Highly Committed’ (see Useful Publications) for candidates on the WOBC. This virtual simulation provides numerous common situations for warrant officers during which their ethical reasoning skills are assessed. The idea is that instructors could integrate portions of the simulation into their other instruction to bring an ethical component into the training.

2.7     Special Forces Warrant Officer Institute

Since August 2006, Special Forces warrant officer candidates (MOS 180A) have undertaken their training via the Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification Course (WOTTC) delivered by the Special Force Warrant Officer Institute, which is part of the US Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre & School located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

In 2010, after three years of trial and temporary appointment authority, the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre & School was authorised “…the ability to permanently appoint its warrant officers…” (Chace, 2010). Under this new authority, the first class graduated on 18 May 2010 (Chace, 2010).


3.0     Introduction

The exact entry standards and application criteria for warrant officers in the US Army depends on the future branch of the candidate.

In general, warrant officer specialties are only open to soldiers in what are known as ‘feeder military occupational specialties’ or feeder MOS. For example, the feeder MOS for the new warrant officer MOS 923A (Petroleum Systems Technician) include 92F, 92L, and 92W. However, there are five warrant officer specialties open to all MOS, including (Jarrett, 2017):

  • MOS 153A Rotary Wing Aviator;
  • MOS 250N Network Management Technician;
  • MOS 251A Information Systems Technician;
  • MOS 254A Signals Systems Technician; and
  • MOS 882A Mobility Officer (authorised in 2015).

Certain warrant officer specialties are also open to in-service transfers (Navy, Air Force & Marines) and direct entry, i.e. civilians, such as aviation.

3.1     General Criteria

The general criteria for applying to the warrant officer training programme includes (Jarrett, 2017):

  • Non-waiver Criteria:
    • Be a US citizen or naturalised citizen.
    • Have a general technical (GT) score of 110 or higher.
      • Applicants can take an Armed Forces Classification Test (AFCT) to improve their scores.
    • Pass the standard three-event Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) and meet height and weight standards.
      • Push-ups (Press-ups), sit-ups, and 2-mile run.
      • APFT valid for six months.
    • Pass an appointment physical for technicians or Class 1A flight physical for aviators (aka pilots).
      • Pilot candidates must have a visual acuity of 20/50 (correctable to 20/20).
    • Have a secret clearance (interim secret acceptable to apply).
    • Have a Flight Aptitude Selection Test score of 90 or higher (pilot candidates only).
  • Waiver Criteria:
    • Age:
      • Any MOS: Maximum age of 46.
      • Pilot MOS: Minimum age of 18 and a maximum age of 32 (29 prior to 2017).
    • Experience: Active duty applicants must have a minimum of five years’ experience and a maximum of twelve years’ experience.
    • Pay Grade:
      • Must be at least pay grade E-5 (P) (Sergeant (Promotable)) or higher (usually up to pay grade E-7, Sergeant First Class); however, does vary between MOS.
      • Aviation and Signal Corps are exceptions.
      • Former commissioned officers and warrant officers are eligible for appointment without attending WOCS, but must complete the predetermination process for approval for entry into a warrant officer career field.
  • Predetermination Process:
    • Resume and Letters of Recommendation (LOR): Applicants must build a resume and secure a minimum of four LORs (CDR, First LTC in Chain of Command and a CW3 or higher in the WO MOS and the CCWO). The USAREC format must be used for the resume and LORs.
    • Certified & validated copy of ERB/ORB.
    • Civilian Education: High school diploma or GED completion. Some college level courses may be required depending on the warrant officer MOS. Many require six credit hours of college level English.
    • NCOERs/OERs: Covering the period of service in the feeder MOS.
    • Military Education: requirements vary per the warrant officer MOS. With the exception of Aviators, all require the Warrior Leadership Course (WLC) and many require the Advanced Leader Course (ALC, formerly BNCOC).
    • Civilian Skills: Civilian acquired skills and years of experience may be considered for some warrant officer MOS’s, as per the MOS proponent.
    • Physical: Must meet appointment physical standards in accordance with AR 40-501 and height and weight standards of AR 600-9. All applicants must pass a standard Army Personal Fitness Test (APFT). The last three DA Form 705s with the most current within the past 12 months. Waivers will be considered for the 2-mile run ONLY if due to combat injury and will require approval by the DA G-3/5/7.
    • Security Clearance: A valid secret security clearance is required with some specialties, such as Military Intelligence requiring a higher than secret level (reference DA PAM 611-21).

The exact criteria varies slightly between the various warrant officer specialties, and applicants are advised to check this prior to any application.

An outline of the US Army’s recruitment and selection process can be found here.

When requesting a waiver(s) applicants must explain how they obtained the equivalent knowledge or experience required by the prerequisite through training or experience in military service/civilian employment.

3.2     Special Forces Warrant Officer Candidates

Since August 2006, Special Forces warrant officer candidates (MOS 180A) have undertaken their training via the Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification Course (WOTTC) delivered by the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre & School located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

To apply to become a Special Forces warrant officer, applicants must be in one of the Special Forces feeder MOS.

3.3     Aviation Warrant Officer Candidates

Army Rotary Wing Aviators fly the US Army’s helicopters. They are also known as helicopter pilots, flying warrant officers, and warrant officer pilots.

The US Army manages its warrant officer aviators under an early-select model, choosing most aviators from among enlisted personnel in their first or second enlistment terms and the rest directly from civilian life, although promotions are slow (CBO, 2002). In contrast, technician warrant officers are managed using a midcareer model in which “They select enlisted personnel with moderate experience in an enlisted occupation that is relevant to their future duties as warrant officers, give them additional technical training, and then promote them more rapidly than under the early-select model.” (CBO, 2002, p.4-5).

Aviation Warrant Officers can be broadly divided into:

  • Flying:
    • MOS 153A Rotary Wing Aviator Training?
    • As outlined above pilot candidates must:
      • Satisfy the specific criteria for the aviation branch.
      • Pass a Class 1A flight physical.
      • Have a visual acuity of 20/50 (correctable to 20/20).
      • Pass a flight aptitude test.
  • Non-flying:
    • MOS 150A: Air Traffic Control Technician.
    • MOS 150U: Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (TUAS) Operations Technician.
    • MOS 151A: Aviation Maintenance Technician.

3.4     Criminal Investigation Branch Warrant Officer Candidates

As a general rule, warrant officer candidates transition from a lower to a higher rank, e.g. from Sergeant to Warrant Officer One. However, the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the US Army’s Military Police Corps enables commissioned officers (first lieutenants and captains) from any military occupational specialty (MOS) to apply to become a CID Special Agent (MOS 311A) through the Army-wide Commissioned Officer to Warrant Officer Programme (Military Personnel Message 17-096). Qualified enlisted personnel can also apply.

Minimum eligibility requirements for MOS 311A (HRC, 2017):

  • 31B V5 ASI;
  • Staff Sergeant (SSG) and SSG (Promotable), or Sergeant First Class (SFC) (non-promotable);
  • Less than 12 years’ time in service;
  • US citizen;
  • At least 21 years old;
  • ST score 107 or better;
  • GT score 110 or better;
  • 12 months or more to ETS;
  • Secret or Top Secret security clearance;
  • PHYC of A or B and PULHES of 111221 or better (no physical limitations and worldwide deployable);
  • Not flagged or barred to reenlist; and
  • 124 SH or more (4 years of college).


4.0     Introduction

The Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) course is seven weeks in duration (six weeks and four days), with between 40 to 96 candidates from active army, army national guard and army reserve components.

All regular army warrant officer candidates must attend the resident WOCS within the Warrant Officer Career College at Fort Rucker. Army National Guard and army reserve warrant officer candidates may attend WOCS at either Fort Rucker or one of the reserve component regional training institute’s (RTI) WOCS. As such candidates undertake either:

  • 7-weeks of training, full course resident for both Phase 1 and 2.
  • 5-weeks of training, distributed learning (DL) Phase 1 and resident Phase 2.

The WOCS and RTI’s test the mental, emotional, and physical stamina of candidates to determine their acceptability into the warrant officer corps. The course is focused on common, foundational material and provides the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required of all warrant officers, regardless of specialty.

Special Forces warrant officers (MOS 180A) attend their candidate school at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (Section 4.3).

4.1     TAC Officers

Training, Advising, and Counselling (TAC) Officers are responsible for training, mentoring, and coaching warrant officer candidates in warrior tasks, leadership skills, and officer attributes during their training at WOCS.

A TAC Officer, normally a senior CW2 or a CW3, must complete a 3-week TAC Certification course, with between 4 and 8 candidates per course divided into:

  • Phase 1: DL to be completed 2-weeks prior to Phase 2 start date;
  • Phase 2: A resident course delivered at Fort Rucker, composed of:
    • One week of academic instruction at WOCC, known as the Faculty Development Programme (FDP);
    • One week of leadership assessment and counselling training at 1st WOC; and
    • One week of Field Leadership Exercise (FLX) training at Tactical Training Base (TTB) Freedom.

In order to perform TAC officer duties, the individual must complete the Army Basic Instructor Course (ABIC) or Foundation Instructor Facilitator course (FIFC), Small Group Instruction Course (SGITC), and the Combat Lifesaver Course. Assignment as a TAC officer is MOS immaterial and can be from the active or reserve component.

TAC officers are assisted by academic instructors who are a mix of civilian and military personnel (normally CW3 or above). Although academic instructors are primarily responsible for academic instruction, they also assess candidates. Academic instructors teach students attending WOCS, and the WOILE and WOSSE courses.

4.2     Outline of the Training Syllabus

With the exception of Special Forces candidates, all warrant officers’ conduct their initial common core training within WOCS or one of the RTI’s.

During their time at WOCS, individuals are known as Warrant Officer Candidates (WOC).

Prior to the start of the course, candidates will report to the in-processing company (HHC). As part of Candidate Integration Day (Table 1) candidates will transit from HHC to 1st WOC.

Candidates will conduct physical training (PT) and academic sessions during the first week, including: military history; institutional resilience training; troop leading procedure; mission orders; military problem solving; and maintaining cultural awareness. The first exam is conducted on the Friday of week one. PT is conducted every morning for approximately one and a half hours.

Every Saturday candidates will participate in the WOC Olympics (Table 1), which is a time for classes to come together to conduct competitive and motivational PT. Candidates, as a class, will also be expected to perform ‘Selfless Service’, usually in the form of community outreach, and usually at the weekend.

Candidates will also participate in a WOC Car Wash, which is organised by one of the candidates.

If candidates perform well in certain training evolutions and ceremonies (Table 1) they may be granted dining and dessert rights, meaning they can talk and eat dessert during meals. Another significant event is the granting of caffeine rights.

An important component of training is mentorship for candidates which is facilitated, usually in small group sessions, by TAC officers and guest speakers.

Table 1: Example outline of warrant officer training [Note 1]
Week Event Description
B1 Candidate Integration Day
  • It is also unofficially known as ‘Pick up Day’, ‘Day Zero’ or ‘Move Day’.
  • It is the first training day that candidates get to officially meet the 1st WOC cadre and their TAC Team.
  • It is designed to set the tone and foundation for the upcoming 5 or 7 weeks of training, advising, counselling, and mentorship.
  • Conduct first evaluation at 0400: Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). Required to pass to be officially enrolled on the course.
  • After transition from HHC to 1st WOC enjoy some PT!
ALL WOC Olympics & Tug-o-War
  • Completed weekly, every Saturday.
  • The company event builds team work, esprit de corps, and a sense of pride.
  • WOC Olympics consists of team events involving monkey bars, heaves (pull-ups), press-ups (push-ups), sit-ups, tug of war, and a 400 metre run after each event.
  • Winners can earn the Olympics streamer, the tug-of-war streamer, and the esprit de corps streamer (for outstanding motivation and teamwork).
  • Winners can also earn rights to 3-6 consecutive meals relaxed dining rights with dessert.
2 Class Colours
  • The class colours ceremony means the class has earned their class colours, sound off rights, mascot, and motto.
  • Awarded distinction of ‘Senior Status’ [?]
3/5 Leadership & Navigation [Note 2]
  • Training includes:
    • Nine obstacle Leadership Reaction Course (LRC): It is used to assess decision making skills and leadership capabilities.
    • Land Navigation PE in groups.
    • Land Navigation individual evaluation: Candidates are expected to find a minimum of 3 out of 4 points in 3 hours to be successful.
    • Field Training Exercise (FTX): A cumulative training event that assesses the class’ ability to conduct basic warrior tasks and battle drills under loaded stress and through austere weather conditions.
    • The FTX is also known as the Field Leadership Exercise.
    • Situational Training Exercise (STX) Lanes: These training missions closely mimic real-world scenarios and force candidates to make quick decisions under pressure.
2/3 Rucksack Marches
  • Marches include:
  • 5 km rucksack march (within 53 minutes).
  • 10 km rucksack march (marching under a 17 minute per mile pace whilst carrying 48 lbs or 30% body weight) precedes the week-long FTX.
  • Staff Exercise, sometimes written as Staffex or Staff-X.
  • First piloted in 2017.
  • Introduces candidates to the military decision-making process (MDMP).
  • Candidates are taught the planning process at various staff levels.
  • Focus is made on ensuring that candidates can effectively come up with courses of action (COA), work effectively with other staff sections and brief the boss effectively.
2/4 Sign Presentation
  • One of the WOCS ceremonies.
  • Led by the Sign Officer, a candidate.
  • Candidates must create a handmade Class Sign, which represents the transition from enlisted to warrant officer.
5 Senior Pinning
  • Senior Pinning on passing the senior phase inspection. The Primary TAC Officer will read out the ‘Senior Privilege’ scroll to the newly minted senior class!
4/5 Staff Ride
  • The staff ride helps to reinforce blocks of academics that the class receives regarding civil war history.
  • It also affords the senior class a day away from 1st WOC to socialise and learn in a field environment.
5/7 Exams
  • Exam 2-2.
  • Exam 2-3.
  • Pass all academic and performance evaluations.
2/5/7 Class Song
  • One of the WOCS ceremonies.
  • Led by the Song Officer, a candidate.
  • Performed in the dining area.
  • Candidates sing their song to ‘hang their hat’.
  • If the Senior Mentor is satisfied with the performance, the class is given the privilege of hanging their class hat on a special spot of the dining facility’s wall.
  • The class can also look forward to being rewarded relaxed dining privileges if they have an exceptional song.
5/7 Victory Run
  • Conducted at 0530.
5/7 Graduation
  • 1000, Aviation Museum, Fort Rucker.
  • Distinguished Honour Graduate.


  1. The above is an illustration of the training undertaken by warrant officer candidates and does change. For example, the leadership reaction course and land navigation, and consequently WOCASTAN, may be delivered in week 5 rather than week 3.
  2. There were rumours that land navigation was going to be removed from the warrant officer training syllabus, however, on 31 July 2016 the USAWOCC Deputy Commandant (via Facebook) dispelled this rumour. USAWOCC cannot unilaterally remove land navigation from the training syllabus as it is mandated by the US Army Centre for Initial Military Training (IMT) which is the core lead for TRADOC for all IMT.

4.3     Training for Special Forces Candidates

Since August 2006, Special Forces warrant officer candidates (MOS 180A) have undertaken their training via the Special Forces Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification (SFWOTTC) course delivered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (Beal et al., 2009).

The purpose of SFWOTTC is to “Educate, train and technically certify candidates for MOS 180A in operational and tactical requirements for planning and executing special operations worldwide. Newly appointed WOs primarily serve as Assistant Detachment Commanders for a SFOD-A.” (SWCS, 2017, p.42).

Prior to the implementation of the WOTTC, the typical training timeline, to include completing the WOBC specific to Special Forces, was 29 to 53 weeks. It was not until Special Forces soldiers graduated from the WOBC that they could receive additional Special Forces training or perform as part of an operational detachment. The WOTTC served to cut the training timeline in half, to 11 to 27 weeks (Beal et al., 2009).

4.4     Training for Army Rotary Wing Aviator Candidates

The selection and training pipeline for candidates for the warrant officer pilot role includes:

  • Application, and selection and assessment for warrant officer pilot.
  • Basic Combat Training (BCT) for civilian entrants/accessions.
    • In-Service transfers do not have to ‘re-take’ BCT!
  • Warrant Officer Candidate School (in a temporary duty or active duty training status).
  • 10-months of initial flight training at Fort Rucker.
  • Specialised flight training: MOS 153A Rotary Wing Aviator Training.

4.5     Graduation

Upon course completion of WOCS, candidates are appointed to the grade of WO1, through the award of a warrant scroll issued by the Secretary of the Department of the Army, but are not yet Area of Concentration (AOC)/MOS-qualified. Graduates will also receive a WOCC certificate of achievement.

Honours that graduates may awarded include:

  • Distinguished honour graduate; and
  • Iron Warrant Word: renamed in early 2017 to recognise the incredible accomplishments and resiliency of retired WO1 Anthony Radetic.

The appointment of WO1 is contingent upon certification by the MOS proponents that the warrant officer is technically and tactically qualified to serve in the authorised warrant officer MOS. To this end, successful WOCS graduates will attend a branch specific Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC).

4.6     Warrant Officer Basic Course

WOBC’s are branch-specific qualification courses that ensure newly appointed warrant officers receive the MOS-specific training and technical certification needed to perform in the MOS at the platoon through brigade levels. The WOBC vary in duration from 5- to 40-weeks.

Training is performance oriented and focuses on technical skills, leadership, effective communication, unit training, maintenance operations, security, property accountability, tactics, and development of subordinates.

Continued W01 appointments and award of a warrant officer MOS are contingent upon successfully completing WOBC.

Non-competitive progression from WO1 to CW2 usually occurs after two years. Competitive promotion to CW3, CW4, and CW5 usually occur at approximately six year intervals for aviation warrant officers and five year intervals for those in other branches.

4.7     Civilian Educational Attainment

For certain chief warrant officer positions, the individual must have achieved a bachelors or higher degree (there is an aspiration that all warrant officers will attain at least a bachelor’s degree).

Certain institutions, for example Webster University, provide individuals with access to these degrees, typically through credit transfer. Find further information here. The WOILE and WOSSE courses are also eligible for credit transfer.


5.0     Summary

The US Army’s warrant officer cohort is open to all male and female enlisted personnel of the US armed forces, and select MOS for civilians. Warrant officer training seeks to attract determined, highly-motivated, intelligent, reliable and physically fit individuals to serve with the US Army’s warrant officer cohort. This article provides the basic information to allow individuals to make an informed judgement before applying for warrant officer training.

5.1     Useful Publications

  • Books:
    • Welsh, D.R. (2006) Warrant: The Legacy of Leadership as a Warrant Officer. Nashville, Tennessee: Turner Publishing Company.
  • Research:
    • The Army Training and Leader Development Panel ATLDP Phase III – Warrant Officer Study Final Report (18 July 2002).
    • Beal, S.A., Kilullen, R., Lussier, J.W., Martin, D. & Ferro, G. (2009) Assessment of the Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification Course (WOTTC). Research Report 1901. Arlington, Virginia: US Army Research Institute for the Behavioural and Social Sciences.
    • Connelly, T.D. (2013) Developing Strategic Leaders in the NCO and Warrant Officer Corps. Master’s Dissertation. US Army War College. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 13 December, 2017].
    • CBO (Congress of the United States Congressional Budget Office) (2002) The Warrant Officer Ranks: Adding Flexibility to Military Personnel Management. Washington, D.C.: CBO.
  • Department of the Army (DA):
    • DA Pamphlet 600-3: Officer Professional Development and Career Management (26 June 2017).
    • DA Pamphlet 600-11: Warrant Officer Professional Development & Utilization.
    • DA Pamphlet 611-21: Military Occupational Classification and Structure.
    • DA Pamphlet 670-1: Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia (01 July 2015).
  • Army Directive (AD):
    • AD 2015-30: Professional Military Education, Leader Development and Talent Management for Warrant Officers (10 August 2015).
    • AD 2017-08: Competitive Categories for Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers Serving on the Active Duty List and the Reserve Active Status List.
  • Army Doctrine Reference Publication (ADRP):
    • ADRP 6-22: Army Leadership (August 2012).
  • Army Regulations (AR):
    • AR 135-100, Appointment of Commissioned & Warrant Officers of the Army.
    • AR 135-155: Promotion of Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers Other Than General Officers (13 July 2004).
    • AR 350-1: Army Training and Leader Development (19 August 2014).
    • AR 600-100: Army Profession and Leadership Policy (05 April 2017).
  • Training & Doctrine Command (TRADOC):
    • TRADOC Pamphlet 525-8-2: The US Army Learning Concept for 2015 (20 January 2011).
    • ALARACT 044-2014: Training Level Guidance for Aviation Officer and Warrant Officer Accessions (February 2014).
    • ALARACT 082-2014: Tattoo Policy (02 April 2014).
  • National Guard Regulations (NGR):
    • NGR 600-101, (Warrant Officers) Federal Recognition and Related Personnel Actions.
  • CAPE Publications:
  • Public Law:
    • 10 USC 742: Rank – Warrant Officers.

5.2     Useful Links

5.3     References

Beal, S.A., Kilcullen, R., Lussier, J.W., Martin, D. & Ferro, G. (2009) Assessment of the Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification Course (WOTTC). Research Report 1901. Arlington, Virginia: U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioural and Social Sciences.

CBO (Congress of the United States Congressional Budget Office) (2002) The Warrant Officer Ranks: Adding Flexibility to Military Personnel Management. Washington, D.C.: CBO.

Chace, D. (2010) Special Forces Warrant Officer Institute Graduates Final Class before Gaining Unique Appointing Authority. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 13 December, 2017].

DA (Department of the Army) (2012) ADRP 6-22: Army Leadership. Washington, D.C.: HQ Department of the Army.

DA (Department of the Army) (2016) Memorandum for Students, Warrant Officer Senior Service Education/Warrant Officer Intermediate Level Education: Distance Learning Prerequisites. Fort Rucker, Alabama: US Army Warrant Officer Career College.

DA (Department of the Army) (2017) AR 600-100: Army Profession and Leadership Policy. Washington, D.C.: HQ Department of the Army.

HRC (US Army Human Resources Command) (2017) Military Police Branch Enlisted Hot Assignments. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 18 January, 2018].

Jarrett, T.M. (2017) Army Looking for Warrant Officers. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 13 December, 2017].

Powers, R. (2016) Army Warrant Officer Selection. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 13 December, 2017].

SWCS (U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Centre and School) (2017) FY 2017 Academic Handbook. Fort Bragg, North Carolina: SWCS.

Warrant Officer Historical Foundation (2015) History of Women Warrant Officers in the U.S. Army. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 13 December, 2017].

Welsh, D.R. (2006) Warrant: The Legacy of Leadership as a Warrant Officer. Nashville, Tennessee: Turner Publishing Company.