By Lt. Col. Jefferson WolfeFebruary 9, 2016
DAENNER KASERNE, Germany (Feb. 9, 2016) -- The Army Reserve needs more warrant officers, a senior leader told 7th Mission Support Command, or MSC, Soldiers.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Russell Smith, the Army Reserve Command chief warrant officer, conducted a town hall with about two dozen Soldiers at the 7th MSC headquarters building, Sunday.
"I need every warrant officer I can get," he said emphasizing, "Being a warrant officer is the best job in the Army."
Warrant officers make up the technical foundation of the U.S. Army, according to GoArmy.com.
Throughout their careers, they specialize in a technical area like intelligence, aviation or military police, the site stated. Although they make up less than 3 percent of total Army strength, warrant officers have a great job responsibility that includes training Soldiers, organizing and advising on missions and advancing within their career specialties.
The Army Reserve is offering a $25,000 bonus or $30,000 Student Loan Repayment Plan for new warrant officers in most career fields, payable when they complete their warrant officer basic course, Smith said. Army band and aviation candidates are among those not receiving bonus money right now, he added.
Warrant officers can come from many different ranks, he said. Many sergeants and staff sergeants join the program, as do lieutenant colonels and colonels, who want to serve in the Army past their mandatory retirement dates.
Recently, even first lieutenants have been becoming warrants, he added.
The key to becoming a warrant officer is a general technical, or GT score of 110 or better on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.
Although waivers may be granted for many other requirements, there is no waiver for the 110 GT score, he said.
Units should identify privates who come into the Army with a 110 or greater GT score as possible warrant officer candidates, Smith said.
The units can groom the private into becoming noncommissioned officers, and then becoming a warrant officer candidate.
There are two ways to become qualified as a warrant officer. One is to complete the five-week warrant officer school on Fort Rucker, Alabama.
The other is to complete a National Guard Regional Training Institute, which requires attended weekend drills and then a two-week phase at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, or Fort McClellan, Alabama.
A Soldier must be in good physical shape to complete the Fort Rucker schooling, Smith said.
The course is physically and mentally demanding - as students spend 8-10 hours a day in class.
"If you're in good physical shape, warrant officer school is a piece of cake," he said.
Once commissioned as a warrant officer, a Soldier has good promotion prospects through the ranks to chief warrant officer four, Smith said.
"What I can't promise is W5," he said, adding there are a limited number of slots in the Army Reserve for that rank.
Because warrants are expected to be subject-matter experts, it is unusual for a warrant to switch specialties after being commissioned. Some transfers are granted, but it's unusual.
"When we assess you as a warrant officer, we want you to stay in the branch the rest of your life," Smith said.
"If you're interested in being a warrant officer, I'd highly recommend it," he said.
Other topics Smith discussed included:
• The Army Reserve is working with state governments to offer free state college tuition to Army Reserve Soldiers, a benefit already available to National Guardsmen.
• Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley has stressed readiness as the Army's highest priority. To that end, the Army Reserve's current effort is to increase medical readiness. The goal is to ensure Soldiers are up to date on the periodic health assessments and dental examinations.
• For leader development, the Army Reserve is using Select-Train-Educate-Promote, also known as STEP. All Soldiers must complete the appropriate level of formal military education before being determined fully qualified for promotion to the next rank.
• The Army Reserve is conducting the 10-Week Fitness Challenge, from Feb. 1 - May 31. This voluntary program is designed to help Soldiers get in shape for the Army physical fitness test. A Facebook page, "USAR Fitness Challenge," has more details.
• The Army offers licensing and credentialing programs that Reserve Soldiers can use to get civilian certifications using their documented military training.