Department of Defense

Warrant Officers and the US Air Force

The most readily obvious source of monetary savings is the lower salaries of warrant officers compared to that of officers currently holding technical positions. According to the Air Force Personnel Center website, there are 14,083 active duty pilots in the Air Force. If half of the Air Force’s pilot slots were to be converted to W-4s, and assuming that the average pay of the officers in those positions is that of an O-4 (Major), there is an immediate savings to the Air Force of $144,513,130 a year. If commissioned officers are truly to be the overall leaders of the Air Force, they should ultimately fill only positions appropriate to that level of responsibility and that require that level and type of authority such as flight commander, director of operations, squadron commander, and higher echelon command roles. In this case possibly 50%-75% of pilot slots might feasibly be converted to warrant officer billets. Besides salaries, the Air Force could see substantial savings from reduced PCS (Permanent Change of Station) rates amongst warrant officers. Commissioned officers typically must move to a new duty location every three to four years in order to them with a breadth of experience. However, since warrant officers would be highly specialized technical experts, it would make more sense to have them stay much longer at a particular base so they can truly hone their skills. Every time a service member moves, the Air Force pays for the packing and shipping of household items, transportation of the service member and all dependents, 10 days of temporary lodging, and dislocation allowance. This could cost the Air Force in excess of $10,000 every time an individual service member moves. Additionally, each time a service member moves to a new base he or she can request up to three months of advance pay, which is loaned by the government at 0% interest. Assuming warrant officers would move every six to eight years (a reasonable assumption, as some enlisted personnel have stayed at the same base for over 10 years), the Air Force could save 50% on PCS costs for every commissioned officer position that was converted to a warrant officer position.

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Idea No. 17780