Warrant Officers: Specialized Tactical and Technical Experts


Written by Shad West

Published July 26, 2007


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WO1 Hiram Nelson, center, receives his new warrant officer bar at his graduation from Warrant Officer Candidate School.

Photo courtesy of CW5 Gary Cloward

WO1 Hiram Nelson, center, receives his new warrant  officer

bar at his graduation from Warrant Officer Candidate School.

DRAPER, Utah — Over the past year, 22 Utah National Guard Soldiers who recently graduated from the Army’s Warrant Officer Candidate School have brought that advanced training and education back to their units.


Three of those warrants graduated near the top of their classes and garnered honor graduate or commandant’s list recognition.


WO1 Curtis Fisher landed on the commandant’s list while WO1 Robert Goldsberry and WO1 Hiram Nelson were honor graduates of their respective classes. The Army Warrant Officer Corps is comprised of over 25,000 men and women of the active Army and Reserve Components.


Guard Soldiers attend the school with their Active and Reserve counterparts, which makes these Utah soldiers’ feat even more special, said Command Chief Warrant Officer Gary Cloward.


“Even our new warrant officers will bring a wealth of knowledge and a breadth of experience that a second lieutenant doesn’t bring to the table,” Cloward said. “About five percent of the Guard is made up of warrant officers. The Guard wouldn’t function without us, and our recent warrant officers are a part of that.”


Warrant officers are innovative integrators of emerging technologies, dynamic teachers, confident warfighters and developers of specialized teams of Soldiers. However, the history of the Army warrant officer dates back to 1918, when Congress established the Army Mine Planter Service as part of the Coast Artillery.


“We started out as mine-clearing experts and were used to fill a niche specialty,” Cloward said. “Today warrant officers are one of the most diverse groups of Soldiers you will ever come across. We are specialized tactical and technical experts in our chosen branches.”


According to Cloward, commanders identify most candidates early in their careers and start to develop and mentor them. Once selected, candidates attend the Army’s Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Ala. The school is designed to transition Soldiers from the enlisted ranks to the officer level. 


For Warrant Officer Curtis Fisher, a Spanish Fork resident, who graduated in July 2006, making the transition from noncommissioned officer to warrant officer enabled him to extend his 25-year career and broaden his opportunities within I Corps Artillery. 


“I basically had reached as high as I could go on the enlisted side,” said Fisher who had attained the rank of sergeant major. “Also, as a federal technician it opens up more opportunities for me.”


However, Fisher says the move wasn’t just for personal gain; he has been able to give back to his unit in a new capacity.


“I’ve learned a lot and have been able to give back in a different way,” he said. “Noncommissioned officers are the doers and officers are the planners, and as a warrant I bridge those two aspects into what I do now.”


Warrant Officer Hiram Nelson feels the same way.  As a Soldier in the Utah National Guard for more than 11 years, Nelson said as a sergeant first class he looked up to the warrant officers in the Military Intelligence brigade. The American Fork resident graduated from the warrant officer school in last May.


“There were outstanding examples of warrant officers all around me,” Nelson said. “I looked at this as an opportunity to serve my unit and my country in a better way than I could in the NCO corps.”


As a warrant officer, Nelson said he is more involved in long-range planning and organization and feels he has his commander’s ear.


“I have an opportunity to work with the commander and other officers now. It was something I had always wanted to be involved in,” the Arabic linguist said.


Both warrant officers said the course was tough at times but well worth the effort. They said that it is an opportunity that other enlisted Soldiers should look at if they want to become more proficient in their career fields, but it isn’t an easy accomplishment.  


“The school is almost like Basic Training on steroids,” Nelson said. “I would recommend it—especially for those Soldiers who want to become specialists in their chosen MOS (military occupational specialty) fields.”