$100,000. That’s what the Army is offering to Special Forces Warrant Officers in case they reenlist.
Special Forces (SF) warrant officers are combat leaders and staff officers. They are experienced subject-matter experts in unconventional warfare, operations, intelligence fusion, and planning and execution at all levels across the operational continuum. Special Forces warrant officers advise commanders on all aspects of special operations and are responsible for the integration of emerging technologies. Warrant officers in the rank of WO1, CW2, and select CW3 serve on a Special Forces Operational Detachment–Alpha (SFOD-A) primarily as the assistant detachment commander and can also serve as the detachment commander (in the absence of a commander) or the commander of specialized teams.
To become an SF Warrant Officer is no easy task in the small community. They must be at least an SSG and have served for three years already on an SFOD-A. They must also have a 1/1 language proficiency in their target language. Moreover, they must meet the medical fitness standards for SF duty and commission within 24 months of application submission. Finally, they must have at least the minimum letters of recommendation (LORs) from the following: SF group commander, SF CCWO, SF battalion commander, and SF company commander. If they don’t have one of these, they aren’t going to be selected.
Typically the SF Warrant Officer is older, 32-35, with 12-15 years already in the military. This is crucial when being second in command to a new Captain, whose right arm most likely doesn’t have a combat patch. However, increasingly, senior warrant officer positions are being unfilled or being filled by a junior Warrant Officer. Currently, only 75 percent of the SF Warrant Officer positions are filled.
Many warrant officers are leaving the military to pursue their next career. Many contracted companies are offering enormous salaries for their skill sets and rush to get offer letters in their hands. With an everchanging combat environment and no real knowledge of what the future holds, many want out. Most of these men have more than ten combat rotations and have been to many more funerals than weddings, have missed countless birthday, anniversaries, and special occasions. One SF Warrant Officer I spoke with said there was a time that he felt like a Skype Daddy, meaning always gone and always talking to his kids through video. While senior leaders will always preach family time is an essential thing, rarely are these men given the time to take it. And God forbid a Team Sergeant leaves a week on the calendar with nothing on it so he can send his men home early to relax; that can’t happen.
So now the Army is targeting these mid-level warrant officers with a $100k bonus like their senior NCO counterparts, who are also receiving a huge bonus to stay in the military. One school of thought is that this will also incentivize the Warrant Officer program, which has struggled for years to fill its 40-man class at Fort Bragg, NC.
So is the bonus worth it? Maybe to the warrant officer that is on the fence about whether or not to stay in the military, knowing he could pay off debt, put a sizable downpayment onto a home, or get that new fishing boat. For most, I believe, it won’t be enough to keep them: they know they could make that $100k back quickly and without losing the much-needed family time they deserve.