News: The quiet professionals
Story by Staff Sgt. Ian Shay
FORT HOOD, Texas- Soldiers from the 143d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) gathered together here, July 9, to celebrate the 95th U.S. Warrant Officer Corps birthday at the North Fort Hood Chapel with drinks and cake.
For 95 years the U.S. Army Warrant Officer Corps has stood as the bridge between two worlds, bringing together the officers who plan and the non-commissioned officers who execute. The quiet professionals stand tall in the middle, providing the experience, wisdom and technical edge that is required to maintain the Army’s mission critical skills.
“We are the technical experts, we do multiple things. We provide that gap between officers and the enlisted, but it has to be in your blood. The first time I saw a warrant officer, that’s what I wanted to be,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul Witherspoon, information systems Analyst, 143d ESC.
The Warrant Officer Corps makes up less than three percent of the Army and those small numbers means the Corps will only pick the best and brightest to carry the torch forward.
The process to join the Warrant Officer Corps requires dedication and the acknowledgment of your peers. Senior warrant officers review submission packets submitted by non-commissioned officers, who feel ready to take the next step and join the elite ranks of the Warrant Officer Corps.
“For Warrant Officers it’s about carrying on the legacy of warrant officers. When you become a warrant, you’re it. You’re what makes it happen on the technical side. We are the best of the best,” said Witherspoon.
The history of the U.S. Warrant Officer Corps is deep in tradition and dates back to the days of Columbus, when only men of noble blood received commissions and command of navy vessels. These royal officers often lack any knowledge or experience regarding navigation or combat operations. This meant they often needed to rely on their most experiences sailors to run the day-to-day operations of the vessels they commanded. These sailors, were referred to as ‘boat mates’ became invaluable to under experienced officers and were granted the rank of Royal Warrant. Thus the tradition of Warrant Officers was began.
In the U.S. Army Warrant Officers are first traced back to the headquarters clerk in 1896, but not officially recognized until the Warrant Officers first birthday July 9th, 1918, when congress established the Army Mine Planter Service as part of the Coast Artillery Corps.
Only 40 Warrant Officers were authorized at the inception and only three grades with varying levels of pay for masters, 1st mates and 2nd mates. The official color for the Army Warrant Officer Crops was established as brown, to signify the brown strands from the burlap bags they used in the Mine Planter Service. These Warrant Officers were responsible for mine defenses in major ports, using both large and small vessels to place ocean minefields.
“The Army Warrant Officer is a self-aware and adaptive technical expert, combat leader, trainer and adviser,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wilton Toups, command chief warrant officer, 143d ESC, during the ceremony’s introduction. “Army Warrant Officers are competent and confident warriors, innovative integrators of emerging technologies, dynamic teachers and developers of specialized teams of soldiers.”
Though the ranks of the Warrant Officer Corps have expanded, the corps is still relatively small. This ensures that the legacy of the Warrant Officer Corps is maintained, and that the quiet professionals continue to serve the U.S. Army as technical and tactical masters of their crafts.