Many an airman have found themselves utterly confused whenever they encounter these wonderful and mythical creatures normally found somewhere downrange (or near one of our sibling service’s chow hall).
Their rank insignia is confusing for the airman seeing it for the first time — but don’t you dare stare! Yes, this rare and godlike commodity is the warrant officer.
What, exactly, is a warrant officer?
A warrant officer is a technical expert. For the branches that have them (i.e. not the U.S. Air Force), they serve as the technical base for their respective service. They, simply put, have become officers based on expertise and, well, warrant.
Sounds great, but does the Air Force need them? Here are five reasons why they might not:
5. Congress had a better plan
The Air Force actually did once have warrant officers.
From the moment the Air Force become a separate branch on Sept. 18, 1947 until 1958, the enlisted ranks topped out at E-7. Congress then created the ranks of E-8 and E-9 for the Air Force, allowing for more growth.
The Air Force didn’t see a need for these technical experts anymore and used this momentum to usher out what had become a somewhat pesky group of individuals.
The Air Force made their last warrant officer appointment in 1959 and the one in active duty retired in 1980.
4. Wait, aren’t we actually getting them?
This is a rumor that has been going around for decades. I, personally, heard it back in my earliest days in Air Force blue and thought it was a great idea.
I heard it again a few years and bases later, and even right now the idea of re-introducing the warrant officer tier to the Air Force is being kicked around.
It’ll probably, eventually, likely, maybe-not-but-just-might happen… one day.
3. We must be different
Just like most younger siblings, the Air Force strives to be different from our big brothers in blue, green, and Marine.
We learn from their history, their triumphs, and their missteps to be a better version of awesome whenever and wherever possible.
Most of the time, that makes sense. But sometimes, different is just different — not better.
2. Because… air power
Keeping in line with the snootiness of being the baby sibling, the Air Force went a step further in hardening the line between enlisted and commissioned than our brothers did.
The Air Force zigged when the Army zagged.
Why? Because there will be no misnomer about ranks, positions, and titles in the Air Force, right?
1. We have our own unicorns
We already have mythical, rarely seen, hard-to-catch creatures in the Air Force.
Unlike other services, where you commonly see some type of operator doing all types of things (from working out to shopping), in the Air Force, you could easily go your entire career without ever seeing a pararescueman or combat controller with your own eyes.
Oh, they exist like a motherf*cker but, unless you’re in that world, you’ll only see them in your dreams.
Pictured: absolute badass, Chief Master Sgt. Davide Keaton (Retired). (USAF photo by Senior Airman Ryan Conroy)