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Marines Recruit For Warrant Officer Program

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII — Coordinators helped Marines consider their future beyond 2015 by organizing a USMC Warrant Officer Program Seminar held Dec. 23, 2014.

Several chief warrant officers shared their stories of how they successfully applied and personally spoke to Marines interested in joining their ranks. The senior leaders discussed how choosing this career path offers opportunities to directly create Corps policies and to switch military operational specialties.

“If a Marine is putting an application into the program (only to) wear the warrant officer rank, they are not wanted or needed,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Smith, an airfield services officer with U.S. Marine Forces, Pacific and one of the seminar’s coordinators. “We want Marines that are passionate about their MOS and willing to work to ensure the Marine Corps stays the premier fighting force.”

The seminar covered both the history of the warrant officer program and entry requirements. Marine sergeants can apply for the administrative warrant officer program after serving eight years. Those who served 16 years and are gunnery sergeants or higher ranking can apply to the weapons warrant officer program.

Warrant officers are technical experts in their field and have the qualifications to become a commissioned officer. Onak said he especially wanted to dispel the misinformation some may have about the program including that the path isn’t as challenging as becoming a staff noncommissioned officer.

“There’s a misconception that the Marines in their MOS can only continue to do that job for the rest of their Corps career,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Onak, a mobility officer with 3rd Marine Regiment and who also assisted in coordinating the seminar. “This is not true at all in the warrant officer field. People don’t realize all the different (military operational specialties) that need specially trained people. It’s not impossible to find a new way to still serve the Marine Corps.”

Onak said warrant officers join an even more select service of fellow Marines who can depend on each other as a networked group of subject matter experts. Smith and the other coordinators said they felt this seminar was important to put together to continue the networking process while recruiting new warrant officers.

“Some young Marines don’t have any interaction with warrant officers in their MOS or help in finding a mentor that can steer them to the program,” Onak said. “There isn’t someone to guide them.”

An estimated 2,049 warrant officers are actively serving in the Marine Corps according to a June 2014 report from the Total Force Planning and Requirements Directorate.

The seminar also covered how to craft fitness reports when applying to the program. Onak and Smith said it is important for applicants to continually do what is necessary to be competitive, which includes being proactive and regularly checking for guideline changes. The information was especially helpful for Gunnery Sgt. Michael Sandall, an Asian/Pacific cryptological linguist with 3rd Radio Battalion. He is in the process of applying and said he felt the seminar offered practical information as well as continued inspiration while he goes through the process. He said he was motivated to join so he could have a direct role in future policy.

“I felt it was time to start making decisions on a larger scale,” Sandall said. “This is the time to make those decisions while I can supervise how those decisions can come to fruition.”

Many chief warrant officers who spoke during the seminar said they applied so they could best positively influence in their MOS.

“I felt that we needed change, and I wanted to have a greater impact on the direction we went,” he said. “For Marines that are looking to put in for the program, ensure they are putting it in for the right reasons.”

In addition to time in service, there is another trait essential for all warrant officer program applicants according to the informational Marine Corps Administration Message: To be of unquestionable moral integrity.

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