The Air Force is bringing back Warrant Officers

After 66 years, the beloved rank is back and better than ever.
Miguel Ortiz Avatar
Cadets in formation at Air Force Officer Training School (U.S. Air Force)

Warrant officers are skilled and specialized officers who focus on their particular field. Although they can (and do) lead and hold command, the primary duty of a warrant officer is to serve as a subject matter expert and provide their guidance and expertise to a commander. When the Air Force was created in 1947, it carried over the warrant officer ranks from the Army. However, following the creation of the senior master sergeant and chief master sergeant ranks in 1958, these senior non-commissioned officers assumed the duties of warrant officers and the Air Force’s Warrant Officer Corps was dissolved. After 66 years, the Air Force is bringing warrant officer back.

The announcement for the first Air Force warrant officer application (U.S. Air Force)

On June 28, 2024, the Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development activated the Air Force’s Warrant Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall announced the revival of the Warrant Officer Corps at the Air and Space Forces Association’s 2024 Warfare Symposium and the service began accepting applications on April 25, 2024. The inaugural cohort of warrant officers will focus in the information technology and cyber career fields.

“We need operational units with all the capabilities they need to deter and compete with our pacing challenges and ready to enter a conflict on short or no notice,” Secretary Kendall said at the symposium. “In those units we need the right mix of skills necessary for high-end combat and to ensure technological superiority, particularly in information technology and cyber.”

Brig. Gen. Cantwell delivers remarks at the WOTS activation ceremony (U.S. Air Force)

At the time of Secretary Kendall’s announcement, the Air Force reported that up to 60 candidates would be accepted into WOTS. Following the school’s activation, the service announced that the inaugural WOTS class will consist of approximately 30 candidates; the second class of approximately 30 more candidates is scheduled to begin in early 2025.

“The reintroduction of warrant officers to the Air Force is another example of the force adapting personnel policies to best compete in emerging security landscapes.” said Holm Center commander Brig. Gen. Houston R. Cantwell in a public affairs release. “The warrant officer will serve on the virtual frontlines, allowing us to stay ahead of rapidly advancing threats while safeguarding national security interests in both the information technology and cyber career fields.”

Maj. Roesler assumes command of WOTS (U.S. Air Force)

At WOTS, candidates will undergo physical training, team-building exercises, and academic lessons related to leadership and communication. Through the training program, candidates will learn and develop the skills that the Air Force expects of its Warrant Officer Corps. The curriculum will concentrate on the five Warrant Officer Foundational Principles: communicate, advise, influence, innovate and integrate. “We are in the business of producing Airmen,” said Maj. Nathaniel Roesler, WOTS commandant. “These specialists come to us with technical expertise, and our mission is to develop them to be better warfighters, advisors, and integrators, ready to fly, fight and win during Great Power Competition. We will answer that call.”

The first WOTS class is expected to graduate no later than January 2025 with the Air Force’s new warrants being assigned across the force based on operational requirements and individual preferences. Additional WOTS classes will be announced annually via the Air Force Personnel Center’s Personnel Services Delivery Memorandum system.