Unclassified document reveals Air Force is looking to bring back warrant officers after 65 years

By Andy Wolf

Despite initial resistance for several decades, the United States Air Force is currently looking to turn some of its enlisted personnel into warrant officers.

For the first time since 1959, the USAF will be looking at promoting some of its enlisted personnel for expertise in their specific fields.

The plan was discovered in a three-page planning order dated Jan. 26. It originated from Air University and was marked as controlled unclassified information so the USAF declined to comment.

“The service must examine new ways to develop and retain a highly capable, technologically capable corps of air-minded warfighters,” the planning order says. “To fully leverage the technical depth and breadth of talent of our airmen and cultivate the strategic advantage USAF technicians have historically provided, we will make the necessary preparations to re-establish a WO [warrant officer] corps and deliver foundational training for designated WO-1 candidates.”

In other branches, warrant officers are often fielded as experts in a specific field and are often used for everything from technical matters to even filling aircraft cockpit seats but the Air Force ended the pay grade 65 years.

It is more likely that the USAF will field warrants for the former, rather than the latter, as the USAF has previously shot down ideas of flying warrants in the past— even with a shortage of pilots.

The USAF is continuing to ramp up for near-peer threats after twenty-plus years of counterinsurgency (COIN) and is amongst the other military branches when faced with the problem of personnel shortages.

In light of this, Military.com reports that the Air Force seeks “to develop a concept of operations (CONOP) to establish a training pipeline to reintroduce a USAF non-aviation warrant officer (WO) program as a technical corps NLT October 2024.”

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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