Warrant officers: why?

Surgeon /is/ a command position. Often, of course, surrounded by people who know more than you do, and always surrounded by people who know more about their specialities than you do. But in the traditional structure, the doctors make the command decisions. (With the consent of their senior nurses, if the doctor has any sense)

IIRC, in the US Navy, officers such as Medical Corps officers can only command medical units. Unrestricted Line Officers can command ships, shore installations, etc.

Thanks, Monty. That’s exactly what I was referring to. For example, while an air force JAG officer may have “command” of the JAG corps, my understanding is that he/she does not rotate through the different command positions that other officers do, and will thus never achieve operational command outside the specialty. Is that correct?
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My uncle was a Navy surgeon who had “command” of a hospital at one point. Obviously no one would have expected him to command anything that floated or fought, though.


To try to keep those Special branch folks out of normal command/leadership positions the Army even has a basic branch in the medical field - the Medical Service Corps. Those are folks with no medical certifications who are trained to administer medical units.

This’ll depend on the country, but in the USA, in terms of succession of chain of command:

Line Officer
Staff Officer

In practice though I imagine the Staff Officer would probably assume command and work with the most SNCO available.

I also second LSLGuy’s comment about the military not wanting to pay market rate for technical skills. One of the reasons why I got out several years ago as it became apparent that they were moving to a contractor workforce for everything technical (aka fun) and the military were their for not-so-fun work.

I used to wonder why they did this, then after a meeting with our division and the CO, he did not realize that the contractors that were working on our equipment were all ex-military and hod more or less just gotten out. There’s an apparent disconnect there with the people who make decisions and reality.

They could also reduce the rank/grade structure as well. I’ve seen some other countries where it’s really truncated. As I have seen SNCO/CWO/LDO perform similar jobs if not the same job, to me, it’d make sense to combo up E6-E9/CWO/O1-3, but that’d be heresy.

My point wasn’t that DoD or the services don’t want to pay market rate. It’s that they can’t.

The only pay grade that approximates a skilled IT person is O6. They have no mechanism to pay O6 wages to a young recently-hired worker except to promote them to O6. Which won’t fly.

That’s the problem. The end-around is to use contractors. Not because DoD has any expectation of getting high quality workers for pennies. Not because DoD doesn’t understand what’s going on and somehow thinks contractors are a cheap bargain; they’re surely not.

The do it because Congress hasn’t yet reformed the entire pay system to permit them to pay military members who’re specialists what they’re worth on the outside.

Yeah, the military pay system would NOT allow for a Geek First Class to make as much as the ship’s line officer Captain. Because that’s just the way rank and paygrade is done.

With the massive influx of contractors at all levels in most militaries, there is an interesting return to the 19th century, when professionals and contractors were just as common as now and as stated above Warrant Officer and similar ranks were basically made due to the need for contractors to have some command powers.

I wonder if in 50-100 years the Army will once again absorb these into regular ranks.

I forgot to mention something above. In the United States, Chief Warrant Officers are commissioned.

Not quite.The purser was a civilian contractor, and were noted for their supposed dishonesty. Of course they were good scapegoats when rations were short and the pork rancid.