REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The Warrant Officer cohort celebrates its 102nd birthday on July 9. Since 1918, the Army has relied on warrant officers to train Soldiers, advise commanders on missions and specialize within specific areas such as intelligence, aviation or military police.
Visionaries, game changers and multi-functional subject matter experts are just a few adjectives Chief Warrant Officer 5 Melanie Harris uses to describe the 157 warrant officers serving across the Army Materiel Command enterprise.
“Warrant officers are a voice for change within their command often initiating the transition of the Army leaders’ vision from the planning stage to execution,” said Harris, who now serves as AMC’s command logistics advisor for the G-3 Supply Chain Management Directorate.
She said she sees her value at AMC in bringing together stakeholders across the enterprise to solve problems.
“Throughout my career, especially at the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, I’ve had to embody a strategic mindset and vision for distribution and planning materiel requirements,” said Harris. “My commander challenged me to use my multifunctional skills to develop and initiate logistics for the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, providing world class support to the warfighter.”
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Samuel Garrett, who specializes in IT systems, says his expertise allows him to support the AMC commander by enabling him to communicate with AMC’s 190,000-plus workforce.
“With the change in technology, a warrant officer has to step up with more training and education to help Soldiers and commanders understand the systems and how they work,” said Garrett.
Soldiers or civilians wanting to join the warrant officer cohort must first graduate Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) and become proficient in their military occupancy specialty. For Harris, she said she remembers the challenges of the course and her graduation.
“I’ll never forget that day,” she said. “I cried tears of joy because I worked so hard to become a warrant officer, and now this was my opportunity to give back everything I had learned over the years.”
After WOCS, warrant officers have the opportunity to network with each other through the warrant officer corps – what Garrett describes as a small, yet impactful network of professionals who not only provide technical and tactical expertise for multi-enterprise systems but also teach, mentor and advise junior warrant officers.
“The corps encourages warrant officers at all echelons to join warrant officer associations and network with other warrants in the community,” said Garrett. “Warrant officers known within and outside the community are able to build relationships with Soldiers and civilians, often expanding their operational reach.”
Harris knows first-hand what newly commissioned warrant officers have to offer.
“When I encounter a junior warrant officer, I get excited because I see creativity and a return on investment,” she said.
Warrant officers are meeting and maintaining the Army’s readiness requirement by mentoring and training the next generation of Soldiers, identifying systematic issues and implementing solutions, but as the Army evolves, they are going to play an even more important role, said Garrett.