Is Bringing Back Warrant Officers the Answer A Loot at How They Could Work in the Air Force Cyber Operations Career Field
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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When the United States Air Force became its own service in 1947, it inherited a cadre of warrant officers from the Army. Never being sure where they fit in or how to utilize them properly, the Air Force ultimately opted to discontinue appointments to the warrant officer grades in 1959. The debate over whether or not that was the right decision has lingered for the last six decades. Though by statute the Air Force is still authorized warrant officers, the service continues to uphold its long-held position that they are unnecessary. Perhaps it is now time for senior leaders to take another in-depth look at the issue. Re-establishing warrant officer ranks for technical career fields such as cyber operations would enable the Air Force to improve retention of highly skilled and talented individuals while reducing overall manpower spending. The Air Force has difficulty competing with the private sector and even other government agencies in hiring and retaining experts in highly technical fields. Although the creation of the super grades, E-8 and E-9, in 1958 were, in the opinion of Air Force senior leaders, intended to fill the technical expert and superintendent roles then held by warrant officers, the grades have become too broadly focused and administrative in nature to fulfill that intent. In contrast, the Army, Navy and Marine Corps utilize warrant officers in a multitude of capacities, especially in highly technical positions, including cyber operations. The cyber operations arena, for instance, needs highly capable, technically proficient operators who can leverage their experience to fight and win in the cyber domain. Instead of hiding behind arguments dating back over sixty years, if the Air Force took a thorough, objective look, it would find that in an era when budget constraints and retention of talented, technically-minded individuals are more critical than ever, reviving a cadre of warrant officers would be an excellent option.
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