AUSTIN, Texas – Chief Warrant Officer 5 Edwin De La Cruz Jr. joined the Army at the age of 17 and has been enthusiastically supporting the Army mission ever since.
“I wake up every day and I put on my uniform with a smile,” De La Cruz said.
As Army Futures Command’s first-ever Command Chief Warrant Officer, De La Cruz is looking forward to ensuring the command’s Warrant Officers – and all of the command’s Soldiers – have the information, resources and support they need to succeed.
“I’m here to help assist in integrating technology by leveraging the Warrant Officer network and help flatten communications where appropriate throughout the command,” De La Cruz said.
Army Futures Command is home to approximately 120 Warrant Officers, who offer technical expertise and advising throughout its many organizations and subordinate commands. Whether focused on field artillery, engineering, aviation or another one of the 48 disciplines Warrant Officers warrant officers can specialize in, they provide insights that often prove invaluable to shaping task execution and outcomes.
“I call them the ‘heavy hitters and go-getters’ of the [Army] population,” De La Cruz said of Warrant Officers, explaining that many Soldiers who become Warrant Officers do so after serving as exemplary Non-Commissioned Officers and honing their knowledge of their technical military occupational specialty.
He noted that while Warrant Officers make up less than 3% of total Army strength, they “have a great job and responsibility that includes training Soldiers, organizing and advising on missions, and serving as the Army’s technical experts and trusted advisors to commanders.”
“We make up the technical foundation of the United States Army,” De La Cruz said.
De La Cruz enlisted in the Army as a cannon crewmember in 1997, shortly after graduating from high school in Puerto Rico. He transitioned to the role of Warrant Officer after seven years of service because he wanted to become “a more technical expert in the realm of holistic field artillery (FA).”
“I was at a point in my career where I wanted to continue to provide and give back to the FA community, but in a different capacity,” he explained.
“All the Warrant Officers that I’ve dealt with in the past, when I was enlisted, have always had the answer,” De La Cruz said, adding that in the rare case a Warrant Officer did not have the information he was seeking, they would connect him with someone who did.
As much as he was intrigued by the Warrant Officer position, De La Cruz also held high regard for his role as a Soldier – a vocation he set his sights on much earlier in life.
“Here I am, it’s 1991, I’m 11 years old, and I’m sitting in front of the TV,” De La Cruz recalled. “I believe it was CNN at the time that was broadcasting live, and I’m watching Desert Storm.”
He remembers asking his cousin – who was in the Service but was at home on leave at the time and sitting nearby – “What’s going on here?” His cousin proceeded to explain what was happening and why it is important to defend the nation.
“That completely solidified my decision on why I wanted to be a Soldier,” De La Cruz said. “To give back, serve my country and be part of something important, the Army.”
During elementary school, De La Cruz also participated in the Coastal Patrol Cadet Corps, a nonprofit Naval/Marine youth organization based in Brooklyn, New York, where he was living at the time.
“It was almost something to the effect of a Boy Scouts, but on steroids,” De La Cruz said. “They taught you all kinds of stuff.”
In addition to introducing youth to military career fields and traditions, the organization sought to help children build discipline, character and good decision-making abilities.
“It was a great program for kids,” De La Cruz said. “That’s another key factor that led me to being part of this organization [the Army], the best in the world.”
His choice to join the Army ended up being one of the most influential of his life.
“I’ve spent my entire adulthood serving our country,” De La Cruz said, asserting that “the greatest reward is the people. The Army has given me the opportunity to work with people, great Americans, from all different walks of life.”
Before joining the Army Futures Command headquarters, De La Cruz served as a leader and staff officer in multiple echelons from battalion, brigade, division and joint targeting positions. He also deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, completing seven combat tours and earning the Bronze Star Medal for his actions.
In his new position, which he assumed in April, De La Cruz serves as the Warrant Officer principal advisor to the Commanding General, senior leaders and staff directorates on matters relating to Warrant Officer utilization, force management and force design.
He looks forward to refining and codifying the authorities and responsibilities of the Command Chief Warrant Officer role while also supporting command efforts to develop more modern organizations, concepts and solutions, including in the areas of new technology and data centricity.
“Innovation is about more than just materiel,” De La Cruz said.
“Armies win or lose by a combination of how we fight, how we organize, and how we equip, and all three of these start with AFC.”
To learn more about Army Futures Command, visit the AFC website here.
To learn more about the unique role of Warrant Officers within the U.S. Army, view the resources here:
Career webpage: What is a Warrant Officer? | GoArmy.com