Warrant Officer

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A Warrant Officer (WO) is an officer in a military organization who is designated an officer by a warrant, as distinguished from a commissioned officer who is designated an officer by a commission, or non-commissioned officer (NCO) who is designated an officer by virtue of seniority.

The rank was first used in the (then) English Royal Navy and is today used in many other countries, including the Commonwealth nations, and the United States. Outside the United States they are effectively senior non-commissioned officers with long military experience, although technically in a cadre of their own between NCOs and commissioned officers. However, warrant officers in the United States are technical leaders and specialists, and Chief Warrant Officers are commissioned by the President of the United States and take the same oath as regular commissioned officers. They may be technical experts with long service or direct entrants, notably for U.S. Army helicopter pilots.

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History: Origins in the Royal Navy

The warrant officer corps began in the 13th century in the nascent English Royal Navy. At that time, noblemen with military experience took command of the new Navy, adopting the military ranks of lieutenant and captain. These officers often had no knowledge of life on board a ship — let alone how to navigate such a vessel — and relied on the expertise of the ship's Master and other seamen who tended to the technical aspects of running the ship. As cannon came into use, the officers also required gunnery experts.[1]

Four categories of WOs

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