By Capt. Jessica Rovero
USAREC Public Affairs
August 17, 2016
Fort Knox, Ky. -- The 2nd Annual Warrant Officer Accessions Summit was held here Aug. 2- 4 to focus on the future of the warrant officer recruiting and accessions process.
Warrant officers from across the Army came together to discuss this small but vital in-service recruiting mission.
Recruiting is challenging in any capacity, but when it comes to recruiting from inside the force, the competition gets a lot fiercer as the applicant pool gets smaller. The Army as a whole is downsizing, but the warrant officer corps is growing. This year's mission is 1026, which is up about 32 percent over last year and will increase approximately another 15 percent in FY17.
One of the larger challenges the warrant officer cohort faces is its messaging. How do you recruit people when no one knows who you are?
"Largely chief is elusive," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jeremy Addleman, who organized the summit and serves as the warrant officer recruiting program chief for U.S. Army Recruiting Command. "Most people don't work around warrant officers, so they don't really know what the warrant officer does and why they are important."
The Warrant Officer Recruiting Team, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is tasked with recruiting highly qualified in-service applicants who demonstrate character, competence and commitment to serve as joint and combined arms capable Army warrant officers. The future of that mission is the driving force behind the accessions summit.
"Our goal is to come together collectively and discuss our accessions process with a creative mindset and focus on the Warrant Officer 2025 strategy," Addleman said. "So this whole event is designed in improvement."
Representatives from all three Army components - Regular Army, Army Reserve and National Guard - participated in the summit to bring awareness and insight into their own recruiting challenges and to work together to help solve some of the larger issues that apply to the cohort. Any changes made to policy and process affect all three components.
There are 16,000 warrant officers in the active component and less than 12,000 combined in the Army Reserve and National Guard. It is the warrant officer's job to be the technical and tactical subject matter expert and serve as advisor to the commander in his or her technical field of expertise.
The Army Reserve warrant officer slots are currently filled at about 76 percent, and the National Guard is filled at about 83 percent. That's why senior warrant officers like Chief Warrant Officer 5 Russell Smith, the senior warrant officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mark Sutton, officer accessions manager for Army Reserve Careers Division, took the time to attend.
"It was just an honor to be invited to this, because I do want to talk about some of our issues and let it be known that the active component can be helping us achieve some of those goals," Smith said. "And we really have to make them aware of some of our challenges and try to find those ways that we can help."
Sutton shared Smith's sentiments. "It's the ability to provide the knowledge that we bring to the table, the knowledge they bring to the table, and the knowledge that the National Guard brings to the table which allows all three of us to come up with a solution that supports all," he said.
The summit embodied the concept of "one team, one fight" with constructive discussion and a healthy exchange of ideas. That was key for Chief Warrant Officer 3 Laura Severin, warrant officer accessions chief, Army National Guard Bureau.
"It's nice to see we all have the same vision - to make more warrant officers and be successful," Severin said. "The take away is that we are working together. We all have the same idea, and that we're all willing to work together is the best part of this for me."
More than 50 warrant officers and recruiting team members from 13 different branch proponents attended the summit. Discussions covered a wide variety of topics: the warrant officer recruiting team, packet submission, processing and trends, sister service conversions, initiatives, prerequisites, selection boards, Army National Guard accessions trends and challenges, Army Reserve accessions trends and challenges, waivers, FY 16 trends and challenges and the upcoming FY 17 mission.
"What a great group of professionals you are," USAREC Deputy Commanding General Brig. Gen. Donna Martin told the group at the end of the summit. "You are the technical experts in what you do. And we could never ever, as an Army, survive or thrive without your expertise. So, thank you for what you do every single day in support of our Army."