ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - Four U.S. Army warrant officers graduated Warrant Officer Advanced Course Phase II from Rock Island Arsenal - Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, Aug. 21.
The warrant officers spent two months at Fort Meade, Maryland, for their phase I, before completing phase II, Aug. 4 to 21 at RIA-JMTC.
RIA-JMTC wasn't chosen randomly as the site of WOAC phase II.
"From my understanding, they picked this area because it has a lot of the allied trade functions that deal with our (military occupational specialty). It's a used facility that has been here for over 100 years and the capabilities they have here are pretty amazing," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Erick Basilio Javier, 145th Maintenance Company, allied trades warrant officer. "It's basically what we do. They do foundering, they do welding, fabrication, they do machine work, which is what allied trades does. Most of us came out as a welder or a machinist. They have state-of-the-art equipment here."
The equipment was also a big sell for another member of the class.
"Coming here, seeing the machines they have, we were able to get a small block of instruction. It was like a refresher course for me," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kenny Rene, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, allied trades warrant officer. "I was actually able to regurgitate some of the information and knowledge I've been exposed to previously in 2012, then coming back to the advance course in 2017, seeing the equipment and it was able to trigger some of the things that I learned before and it started coming back to me slowly."
With the refresher and learning about the variety of capabilities RIA-JMTC has available causes optimism in returning to their units.
"We can bring this back to the unit. ... Maintain Army readiness and equipment readiness," said Basilio Javier.
The warrant officers come from different backgrounds and experiences. One is a National Guard Soldier, one a Reserve Soldier and the other two active duty. Three of them are in line units while one is part of a headquarters staff.
"It was extremely beneficial for the class, being able to work together, pick each other's brains and find out each other's units and how they work in a unique aspect of what they do in terms of support," said Rene.
The Soldiers found their time at RIA-JMTC rewarding and the only critique of the program was its length.
"They should make it a little longer," said Basilio Javier.
The warrant officers are leaving RIA-JMTC with a hammer and a coin they made, a certificate and knowledge in their technical skills. They highly recommend the program and have advice for future participants of the course.
"I would tell that individual to always have an open mind, be totally receptive to what you're about to see and there is no such thing as knowing everything. Even if you know a lot about what you do, you learn something new every day," said Rene. "Take in what you can and put it in your tool kit, drive on with it and disseminate your knowledge to the other younger warrants who are coming up behind you so they too can be proficient in what we all do."