Warrant Officers Celebrate 25 Years of Continuity


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice

More than 28 years ago, two officers at Fort Bragg’s JFK Center for Military Assistance formed a working group for a study called “the Special Operations Personnel Career Management Program.” With no budget or support, they worked in whatever vacant space was available in the JFK Center’s Kennedy Hall and cajoled secretaries to provide the necessary administrative support in their spare time. From their study, the two officers, Colonels Charlie Beckwith and J.H. “Scotty” Crerar, made recommendations that led to the creation of Career Management Field 18 to solve personnel-management problems. To solve the problem of a lack of continuity on SF detachments, they recommended the creation of slots for Special Forces warrant officers.

It has now been 25 years since the first class of 24 SF warrant officers graduated in June 1984 and received their appointments. The first few years were difficult for SF warrant officers as, with little technical training, they struggled to develop their job descriptions and find their place on the SF detachment. Equipped with only their experience as SF NCOs and the warrant-officer-candidate training they had received at Fort Sill, Okla.; Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; and Fort Rucker, Ala., they painstakingly forged the way for other SF warrants to follow.

Job titles for the SF warrant officers have made many changes over the years. They were initially called the special operations technician, or the team tech, a title that did not set well with them, as they were not technicians in the same way that the warrant officers of other branches were: They were unique. As the only ground-combat warrant officers in the Army inventory, they were all “green tab” leaders from day one.

Since the first class, the ranks of 180As have grown to more than 460 active-duty warrant officers who serve at the detachment, company, battalion, group and theater-special-operations-command levels. More positions are being validated every year as SF warrant officers prove to be invaluable to the special-operations community as combat leaders and planners.

Today the reason for the creation of the SF warrant officer — continuity — is stronger than ever, not only on the detachment but at all levels of command. The warrant officer’s flexibility allows him to stay in positions far longer than NCOs and officers can. That factor is by design, and it has proven to be vital to the unity and continuity of the force. SF warrant officers have led detachments into battle and have assured the success of many missions, fulfilling the expectations of those who designed the branch and the warrant officers who came before them.

Today’s SF warrant officer is better trained than he was 25 years ago, because the ever-changing career model is designed to respond to the needs of the force. Using critical feedback from the force, the SF warrant officer’s professional military education, or PME, has been developed and reshaped over the years to better prepare him to execute his mission. The Warrant Officer Basic Course has merged with the Warrant Officer Candidate Course to form the SF Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification Course. This one-station unit training returns the warrant-officer candidate to the SF detachment as a fully-qualified warrant officer 1 sooner than the previous training models did. The SF Warrant Officer Advanced Course prepares the 180A to operate in company- and battalion-level operations. There is a critical need for specific 180A training at the group level and beyond, and a Special Forces Warrant Officer Staff Course appears to be on the horizon. One of the most significant changes for 180A PME has been the establishment at the Special Warfare Center and School of the SF Warrant Officer Institute, which is responsible for the PME for all 180As, from the warrant-officer candidate to the chief warrant officer 5.

We owe a great deal to that first class of 24 SF NCOs who, despite the fact that they could receive more pay as a senior NCO than as an entry-level warrant officer, volunteered to take on a job that meant less money, more work and an uncertain future. Their tenacity and professionalism ensured the future of the SF warrant officer career field. They are truly an important part of the history of the SF community and will always hold a special place in the regiment.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Tommy J. Austin is the commandant of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School’s Warrant Officer Institute.

The cadre of the first warrant officer training program comprised many of the first SF warrant officers.

The current cadre of the Warrant Officer Institute at Fort Bragg, N.C. U.S. Army
I know Mr. Griffaw and Mr. Austin. Guy Griffaw is a great guy very intelligent and if anyone wants to know anything about Unconventional Warfare then he is the man to see.
I've known Tommy for 22 years and 3 different bases / assignments, served on 2 different ODA's with him, went through the Q with him. (2nd pic - next to the 'U'.)

Just saw him the other day at the FB PX.....good dude.....hard worker. Glad to see him excel the way he has.....