Warrant officers in the Marines occupy a special niche between noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers. They are promoted from the enlisted ranks, generally with at least eight years of service, and for some jobs, a minimum of 16 years in the Corps, making them career Marines. Warrant officers are promoted from within the ranks of enlisted Marines, but the promotion is not automatic; they must specifically apply for it. The Marines have four warrant officer programs: regular active duty, active reserve, career recruiter and master gunner.
Regular Active Duty and Active Reserve
The requirements for both of these programs are similar. Candidates must have earned at least the rank of sergeant and have completed eight years in the Corps. There are numerous billets, or job assignments, for warrant officers in these programs, including legal administrative officer, utilities officer, ground radar maintenance officer and avionics officer. Other WO specialties in these programs include postal officer, personnel officer, electro-optic instrument repair officer, and ground supply operations officer. Candidates for these positions must fulfill specific prerequisites with respect to military occupation specialties, and are promoted to Warrant Officer 1 if selected.
Applicants for the position of career recruiter must have earned at least the rank of staff sergeant and have served 12 years in the Corps. In addition, they must have at least three years’ service in MOS 8412, Career Recruiter. Like all other warrant officer promotions, promotion to WO1 under the career recruiter program is determined not only by the qualifications of the applicants, but primarily by the needs of the Corps.
A staff NCO who has earned at least the rank of gunnery sergeant and has a minimum of 16 years of service, and who has served in the 0369 MOS, Infantry Unit Leader, may apply for the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2 under the Marine Gunner program. A Marine Gunner is among the most expert within the Marine Corps in all the weapons organic to an infantry unit and in combat marksmanship, and is an integral element of a unit’s training program. Although not required, it is recommended that SNCOs applying to be a marine gunner also have experience as operations chief for a weapons company, or a battalion or regiment. Upon promotion, a Marine Gunner wears the appropriate CWO insignia on his right collar and a bursting bomb insignia on the left collar.
Training and Beyond
The first assignment for a newly promoted warrant officer is the Warrant Officer Basic Course, an abbreviated version of The Basic School training required of all new lieutenants, held at Quantico, VA. They are subsequently assigned to units as required by the Corps. Warrant officers are eligible for periodic promotions through the warrant officer ranks, from Chief Warrant Officer 2 through Chief Warrant Officer 5. Although some warrant officers are subsequently promoted to commissioned officers, most serve out their careers as warrant officers. Warrant officers in these positions are among the most knowledgeable in their fields, and they provide training and leadership to the Marines they work with. Because of the high degree of specialization in a field required to achieve WO rank, they are designated restricted officers, and are not subject to reductions in force planned to reduce the Corps’ active duty strength.
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