By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 21, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Army continues to evolve in response to a changing world and the needs of the nation, and a visiting U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command senior leader said warrant officers are crucial to the success of the force of today and tomorrow.
Maj. Gen. Anthony C. Funkhouser, Center for Initial Military Training commanding general, visited the Warrant Officer Career College to speak with recent graduates and senior warrant officers to get feedback, as well as answer questions about the current and future force.
"Initial military training is in my purview, so I took advantage of the time and came down to do a couple of town hall meetings with some of the warrant officers here," said the general. "Warrant officers are an incredibly important part of our Army. They've evolved over the last 100-plus years with responsibilities for the technical aspects for many of our branches."
It's because of their importance that Funkhouser spoke with many of the WOCC's junior and senior warrant officers, and held an open discussion on topics they inquired about.
"It's provides a great way to see the insights of the Army at the senior level," he said. "They asked some very insightful questions -- from things that I'm responsible for in regards to health and fitness, as well as things happening across the Army in relation to manning and downsizing. I thought it was a good opportunity for them to hear from senior leaders on how our Army is evolving over time and how they will fit into that puzzle as we go forward."
In that puzzle, Funkhouser said, warrant officers play an important role because they are the ones who understand the technical processes -- the ones he dubbed the "solutioneers of our Army."
"They understand that technical process and how things happen, and the sensitivity of those processes in order to advise us, so that we, as commanders, don't create some irreversible problem by making a decision and not understanding the risk or the impacts of that risk," said the general.
It's that expertise that Funkhouser said he wants junior warrant officers and warrant officer candidates to understand is the type of responsibility that they will be undertaking as they progress throughout their careers.
"I hope that they understand that we have a great dependency on them and that they're a critical member of the team, but we need them to suit up every day and help us develop solutions to this really complex world that we're living in today," he said. "As we look at the Army Operating Concept and the current world situation, it's more complex than ever, so we need to be able to look at processing and develop innovative solutions that we didn't have before within the constraints that we have as a military."
Issues such as budget cuts, and how to be able to do more with less are the types of issues that require the innovative thinking and expertise that warrant officers can provide, said the general.
"How can we do things faster or cheaper with the resources we have?" he asked. "It's these guys that can tell us this is the way to do it, but to also understand the process that if we do it (in a certain way, what the outcome might be), and that allows us to look at it and ask, 'can I assume some risk here?'"
Funkhouser isn't shy about showing his appreciation for warrant officers, who he said have had a tremendous impact on his military career from the time he was a lieutenant working with maintenance and logistics warrant officers to where he is now.
"I've had great warrant officers who have had great prepotency across the regiment just doing tremendous things every day," he said. "They are a critical part of the team and, from my perspective, indispensable."