back to article US Air Force's new cyber, IT skill recruitment plan: Bring back warrant officer ranks

Skilled IT professionals considering a career change have a new option, as the US Air Force is reintroducing warrant officer ranks exclusively "within the cyber and information technology professions."  The new tech track was announced by Air Force Chief of Staff General David Allvin along with other plans [PDF] to better …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't speak for the USAF, but it's a much respected rank in the British Army from my perspective. In different parts of my working life I've had a WO1 and WO2 dumped on me at the end of their stints as part of their transition to civvy life - mainly because the army part funded them so my boss took advantage of the cheap labour. Neither seemed qualified to join the team but my initial annoyance at the distraction of getting them up to speed turned to admiration at their confidence, application, and how quickly they were accepted, respected and useful - truly fire-and-forget in terms of problem assesment and solving and excellent dealing with difficult customers and directors. Both are now deservedly in senior positions in the companies they work for.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Most militaries have 3 main sets of people. Officers, NCO's and the privates. Broadly, Officers set strategy, NCO's implement the strategy and the Privates do what they are bloody well told.

      A WO1 is the highest possible rank for Non Commissioned Officers within the British military. It's the non commissioned equivalent of a Major General, and those chaps were probably used to working at that level of officer and politician, dealing with much higher stakes than most people reading this will likely ever do, while managing people far more difficult or stressed than anybody reading this can have any conception of.

      I'm in awe that anywhere you worked managed to get that calibre of applicant. If I get somebody as intelligent as my cat then I consider it to be an excellent day.

  2. DS999 Silver badge
    Alien

    These would have come in handy for the Stargate project

    All those Air Force personnel who are experts in working with highly sophisticated human and alien technology like 'Walter' (the guy who usually put in the commands to dial the stargate) should probably be warrant officers rather than master sergeants.

    1. KarMann Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: These would have come in handy for the Stargate project

      Oddly enough, even though I've been in the USAF myself, Walter was the first thing that came to my mind.

  3. martinusher Silver badge

    Pay grades might be a problem

    I only know my own line of work but a quick look at the pay grade charts suggests that pay comparable to the civilian sector would need to be somewhere between a Major and a two or three star general (O-4 to O-8).

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Pay grades might be a problem

      A friend's dad in was quickly promoted to Lt Colonel back in the 80s once all the REME pipeline engineers started leaving for the North Sea.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Pay grades might be a problem

      You'll never get equivalent pay in the military. What you will get, however, is a pension at a very early retirement age. Early enough that you can then have a second career in industry while collecting that military pension.

      I'll bet if you redid the math taking into account that pension and lifetime health care the picture looks a bit different. Obviously you'd need to start fairly young for that to have maximum effect, if you start in your 40s the value of the pension and health care is a lot less than if you start in your 20s (or better yet right out of high school)

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Pay grades might be a problem

        I think that, unlike industry, it's also uncommon to get to a senior technical position in the forces and be completely useless. Ex-Artificer SMs and the like have all been excellent to work alongside both on my team and on the customers'. Also, with their pension as a backstop, they are less dependent on the company and are less willing to take the shit that the rest of us have to put up with.

        On the other hand, I've had a couple of bosses who were ex-officers (a major and a full colonel) and their weakness was that they assumed that the department structure they were dropped into existed and was competent - as it tends to be in the forces. As a result they both had a hard time understanding that just because someone was in the second-top engineering "rank" they couldn't assume that they were good at their job or be trusted to get on with it.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Pay grades might be a problem

        "I'll bet if you redid the math taking into account that pension and lifetime health care the picture looks a bit different."

        The phasing matters, however. The pension doesn't help bring up a young family unless the family is your grandchildren.

  4. Death Boffin
    Thumb Up

    Senior techs

    This solves a problem that the Air Force has had for a long time. How do you retain technical experts without requiring them to be managers?

    The highest you can go without management requirements is Technical Sergeant (E-6). There is no career path after that to Master Sergeant (E-7 and above) that does not involve managing people. The hardcore techies really don't want to do that.

    The Air Force up or out promotion policy makes it very hard to have a career doing only technical work. This may be an answer to that problem.

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