Warrant Officers are something of an anomoly in the Army. They are former Non-Commissioned Officers (except for some pilots, but those are an entirely different breed) who have given up their stripes but are not quite Commissioned Officers. They are the supposed “technical experts,” there to give guidance and support and lead the way but not in a command position or in an NCO position.
They seem to be, in my experience, very good at sneaking off for a nap.
In Iraq, around 1500 was officially designated Warrant Officer Naptime. Rarely could you find several of the warrants that floated around the base at that hour. Most of them realized that without troops to lead or missions to go on with their Soldiers, they really had little else to do but nap around that time until it was required to brief someone about something or another. They are, by and large, extremely good at Power Point presentations.
Around here, it is more “I have to go to the bank” which is right across the street but seems to take an awfully long time to get to, especially because the bank doesn’t serve coffee but he always wanders back in with a cup. And I spent a good two hours today hunting through every piece of paper in my office looking for something I had left out before I departed on my most recent excursion. I found it filed, neatly, on my Warrant Officer’s desk. By filed neatly I mean in a small bin sandwiched between a telephone directory and some obscure-and-unrelated-to-anything paperwork from 2004.
Now don’t get me wrong, he is a good guy. He knows his stuff when it comes to the job and the regulations and how to work the system to get things done. He does all of those things very well, too, and has been a huge asset to have around particularly so I can deal with the piddly things like making sure all of the Soldiers aren’t doing anything overly dumb. I wouldn’t talk poorly about an officer, anyway, since that would carry some rather nasty weight and if I’m going to get medically retired someday I would like to do it at least at my current rank. He is, quite thankfully, not one of those officers that muddles around in NCO business, though will sometimes give his input from his memories of NCO days. And he does, after all, at least keep his cell phone on when “in line at the bank,” and will bring me back a coffee if asked. A good guy, a smart guy, funny, and a friend of mine, just one who grew tired of the nagging feeling of responsibility that comes with being an NCO.
I just get confused sometimes about what exactly I am supposed to do with him, and with the other Warrants I have come across. My First Sergeant today mentioned that he is not responsible for their kind, but at the same time I sometimes feel as though he is like a new puppy and I am supposed to at least make sure he doesn’t stain the carpet. His project when he gets back is to learn the train system, since I asked him why he didn’t take the 40 minute train ride to the airport for leave and the fear was palpable in his voice. I started to give him instructions, then ended up driving him anyway. He’s no fool… that would be yours truely for falling for it. Again.
To tell the truth, I don’t really care what he does, since it’s been a mystery for years and will probably always remain so as long as their ranks are in the Army. So long as he at least stays away from filing anything else for me, we can live in peace. I may even take him to the airport again, but only if he buys me a cappuccino.