Warrant officers are in short supply in the Army’s Air Defense Artillery (ADA) branch, and that will put more money in the pockets of those who have what it takes to be one.
Enlisted air defenders are already getting up to $40,000 just to re-enlist. So a few years ago, the former chief warrant officer of the branch asked the Department of the Army personnel office what was the maximum accession bonus that could be offered to warrant officer applicants, explains Chief Warrant Officer 4 JoNathon Boone, proponent warrant officer for the Office of the Chief of Air Defense Artillery (OCADA).
Up to sixty grand, was the answer.
Other tangible perks: Leadership opportunity, worldwide stationing, job variety, advanced technology and strategic impact.
“Personally, in my position I have had opportunity to actually go globally and talk to other warrant officers of why they became a warrant officer. Why I became a warrant officer was, I’m a Type A personality. I am a person who needs to get it done and I need to get it done my way, immediately. I need to have less bosses to actually interact with and more autonomy,” Boone said.
Autonomy is one of the intangible benefits of being a warrant officer. Being trusted is another. Knowing you have the intelligence and the experience to go out and do that one mission that will make the entire organization successful.
“Having your word as law is fantastic,” Boone said.
Boone would especially like to see women become warrant officers. They would increase diversity and provide a fresh perspective, he said.
It’s only been recently that the branch gained its first female chief warrant officer 5, which is as high as warrant officers can go.
“We’ve always needed warrant officers. A warrant officer is an adviser to the head of the Army or the brain trust of the Army,” he explained.
The ADA branch began to expand in 2001-2002. The need arose for warrant officers to serve as technical advisers in engagement control stations, so now each unit needs three warrant officers per unit instead of two. That means 12 per battalion.
Of the 15,000 in the active component of the Army Warrant Officer Cohort, the ADA branch accounts for 434, only 27 of them female. Currently, each of the three Air and Missile Defense Commands is short by at least 14 warrant officers, Boone said.
“We need a minimum of 68 qualified selected warrant officers every fiscal year,” said Boone, who recently raised the bar from the previous goal of 47 per fiscal year.
There are three military occupational specialties (MOSes) open to ADA warrants: 140 Alpha (command and control systems integrator), 140 Kilo (air and missile defense (AMD) systems tactician) and 140 Lima (AMD systems technician). It’s the Kilos and the Limas who are eligible for the bonus of up to $60,000.
All three MOSes start with a five-week Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Ala.
After that, each of the ADA MOSes goes on to its own Warrant Officer Basic Course. These range from 23-25 weeks in length, and all are taught here at Fort Sill, said Boone, who is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery of the schoolhouse brigade, 30th ADA Brigade.
After you become a Warrant Officer 1, you must serve a certain number of years before you’re eligible to become a WO2, and a few years more before advancing to the next level.
In the Army hierarchy, warrant officers rank above the highest noncommissioned officers but below second lieutenants. NCOs would seem the natural talent pool for warrants, but that’s not always so. Boone said he worked outside the box last year to convert a West Point grad from a first lieutenant to a CW2. Don Herrick, outreach specialist for the 30th ADA Brigade, said some ADA warrant officers have come from the Air Force and other military services.
ADA has the second-highest operational tempo in the Army, after Special Forces. That means its soldiers deploy more. It’s one of only three branches that offer an accessions bonus to become a warrant officer, the others being Special Forces and Criminal Investigation Division.
Boone pointed out that being an ADA warrant officer is a fantastic stepping-stone into a civilian career with defense contractors.