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USAF to Graduate Inaugural Class of Warrant Officers

Cyber Warfare Capability to Reside in Returning Officer Rank, Stemming Personnel Attrition

The first of the Air Force's new batch of warrant officers will be selected in the summer of 2024, with their class beginning in the near future.

The change marks a return to form for the Air Force, which had gotten rid of the senior enlisted position in the late 50s. Today, they believe the time is right to bring it back, citing widespread needs for personnel with serious technical skills that can be had without the comprehensive schooling (and oftentimes unrelated college education) of an officer. The position isn't new to the other services, though: Only the USAF and Space Force have gone without warrant officers for the last 60+ years.

The plan for now seems to be to slow in brand new WOs into the information/technology realm, with a particular focus on cyber warfare and software support. The Air Force has even hinted that they saw many of their own personnel peel away to other branches just to take advantage of the WO position there. Bringing them back into the USAF/SF family means retaining that knowledge before it has a chance to walk out the door.

The rumor mill says that the initial bunch of officers will be drawn from prior service personnel, with a max throughput of about 200 junior and 50 senior WOs a year. Things will be moving a bit slow, however, with the USAF seeing how effective initial cohorts are before scaling up their output. The majority will hail from the Air National Guard, according to Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. He said that more than two thirds of the USAF cyber capability comes from the NG apparatus. 

“I expect ultimately, assuming that we’re successful with these initial steps, that we’ll probably expand it. I don’t think it’s going to happen immediately, so you shouldn’t hold your breath about this. But my sense is, my own intuition about this, is that we’re going to want to expand it after we see how effective it is for cyber and IT.”



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