BOISE, Idaho - Brig. Gen. Michael Garshak, adjutant general and commander, Idaho National Guard, proclaimed 2018 as "The Year of the Warrant Officer" for the Idaho Army National Guard at his annual TAG Leadership Day conference, Feb. 24.

The proclamation was Garshak's first since taking command of the Idaho National Guard in November. In the proclamation, he recognized the warrant officer cohort for its 100 years of service to the Army and its contributions to the organization, state and nation.

"Warrant officers are a tremendous asset to the Idaho National Guard," said Garshak. "I have the utmost respect for their professional expertise and for their critical role in contributing to the readiness of our organization."

Statewide events will be held throughout the year to commemorate the proclamation, including a July fun run sponsored by the U.S. Army Warrant Officers Association, Gem State Chapter.

HISTORY OF THE WARRANT

Warrant officers were first appointed by an act of congress on July 9, 1918 under the Army's Coast Artillery Corps, which was later known as the U.S. Army Mine Planter Service. They were initially considered civilians and served as masters, mates, chief engineers and assistant engineers aboard vessels used to plant sea mines.

The Warrant Officer Personnel Act of 1954 eliminated the U.S. Mine Planter Service and began the modern era in warrant officer history. The act defined warrant officers as highly skilled technicians, also establishing them in the ranks of warrant officer one through four.

By 1972 warrant officers held positions in 59 different specialties. Six years later, Soldiers from both the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard components were allowed to become warrant officers.

Today, warrant officers make up less than three percent of the total Army strength. They hold the rank of warrant officer one to chief warrant officer five and serve as technical experts, leaders and trainers in 21 branches and 71 branch specialties including military intelligence, supply and human resources.

"The days of the old crusty warrant officer, working under a truck in the motor pool are long gone," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michelle Hartley, Idaho Army National Guard command chief warrant officer. "Though they can still be found solving a tricky maintenance problem, they are professional officers, well-educated leaders, trainers and vital contributors to the organization."

WHAT MAKES A WARRANT?

Warrant officers make up the technical foundation of the Army, specializing in one area or branch throughout their career, as opposed to commissioned officers that focus on increasing command and staff duty positions.

They are responsible for advising commanders and the organization on matters pertaining to their specialty, while also serving as both a leader and trainer within their fields.

"A Soldier that becomes a warrant officer has to be passionate about their area of expertise," said Hartley. "They are making a conscientious decision that whatever branch they go into, that's where they will remain. They are going to be the commander's advisor and trusted Soldier who brings a certain level of expertise to the table."

Warrant officers are expected to refine their technical expertise, develop their skills and manage their career progression through various assignments and education.

BECOMING A WARRANT

There are approximately 154 warrant officers appointed in the Idaho Army National Guard serving in 13 of the 21 officer branches and 31 of the 71 branch specialties, including aviation, signal, military intelligence, ordinance, quartermaster, field artillery, engineer, cyber, adjutant general and transportation.

Currently state positions are available in various specialties, including field artillery targeting technician, electronic warfare technician, human intelligence collection technician, mobility officer, command food service technician and electronics missile systems maintenance technician.

For consideration as a warrant officer candidate, individuals must at a minimum be a U.S. citizen; have a high school diploma or GED; have a secret security clearance; be no older than 46; pass a physical; pass the Army physical fitness test; and have a general technical score of 110 or higher. Additional requirements vary for each occupational specialty.