- Warrant Officer
A Warrant Officer (WO) is a member of a military organization holding one of a specific group of ranks. In most countries they are effectively senior
non-commissioned officers, although technically in a class of their own between NCOs and commissioned officers.
This article has a focus on Warrant Officers in the
United Kingdom(and in nations whose military tradition derives from it) Similar ranks exist in other military traditions. For example in the United States Warrant Officers are currently technical leaders and specialists ranking above NCOs but below commissioned officers.
For comparison, in
Germany, the Army rank of Feldwebelis similar to a British Army Warrant Officer; in France, the 'Major' occupies a similar role.
History: Origins in the
The warrant officer corps began in the 13th century in the nascent English
Royal Navy. At that time, noblemen with military experience took command of the new Navy, adopting the military ranks of lieutenantand captain. These officers often had no knowledge of life on board a ship — let alone how to navigate such a vessel — and relied on the expertise of the ship's Master and other seamen who tended to the technical aspects of running the ship. As cannon came into use, the officers also required gunnery experts.
These sailors became indispensable to the running of the ship and were rewarded with an Admiralty warrant. The warrant was a special designation, designed to set them apart from other sailors, yet not violate the class system that was prevalent during the time.
Nevertheless, while the class distinctions embodied by the distinction between commission and warrant were important at Court and in society both at home and abroad, on board ship a person's status has always depended more on the practical importance of the job that he did rather than the formalities of commission or warrant. Admiralty commissions were therefore never accorded the unique status that the Queen's commission holds in the Army, and in the hierarchy of a Royal Navy ship important warrant officers such as the Master would outrank commissioned officers such as the marine
Three categories of WOs
Originally, warrant officers were specialist professionals whose expertise and authority demanded formal recognition. They eventually developed into three categories:
* Wardroom warrant officers
* Standing warrant officers
* Lower-grade warrant officers
Wardroom warrant officers
Wardroom warrant officers, formally called "Warrant Officers of Wardroom Rank", were accorded the same privileges as commissioned officers.
* The Master, like a master of a merchant ship, responsible for the navigation and general sea-handling of the ship.
* The Surgeon
Purser, responsible for the provisioning of the ship.
It may be noted that the positions listed above are now equivalent to commissioned positions in the modern Royal Navy (i.e. navigating officer, chaplain, surgeon and supply officer).
tanding warrant officers
The standing warrant officers generally remained with the ship even when it was out of commission, and often were involved in the initial fit-out.
Boatswain, (pronounced bo'sun) responsible, under the master, for the rigging, sails and anchors of the ship.
* The Gunner, responsible for the maintenance of the guns, but not the actual firing of them.
The carpenter was rendered obsolete with the end of wooden sailing ships (to be replaced by shipwrights and now the civilian constructors of the
Royal Corps of Naval Constructors), but the roles of boatswain and the gunner in the Royal Navy are now carried out by commissioned officers. In smaller ships, the role of boatswain is carried out by the Chief Boatswain's Mate.
Lower-grade warrant officers
Below the standing warrant officers were various warrant officers, such as the
Master-at-Arms, the Sailmakerand the Armourer, although in the hierarchy of the ship these warrant officers might be junior to others who did not hold formal warrants, such as the master's mates or the midshipmen.
The demise of the Royal Naval warrants
In 1843 the wardroom warrant officers were given commissioned status, while in 1853 the lower-grade warrant officers were absorbed into the new rate of
Chief Petty Officer, both classes thereby ceasing to be warrant officers. By the time of the First World War the standing warrant officers had been divided into two grades: Warrant Officers and Chief Warrant Officers (or "Commissioned Warrant Officers", a phrase that was replaced in 1920 with "Commissioned Officers from Warrant Rank", although they were still usually referred to as "Commissioned Warrant Officers", even in official documents). Their ranks had by then expanded with the adoption of modern technology in the Navy to include Telegraphists, Electricians, Shipwrights, Artificer Engineers, etc. Both WOs and CWOs messed in the Warrant Officers' mess rather than the wardroom (although in ships too small to have a WOs' mess they did mess in the wardroom). WOs and CWOs carried swords, were saluted by ratings, and ranked between Sub-Lieutenants and Midshipmen.
In 1949 the ranks of WO and CWO were changed to "Commissioned Officer" and "Senior Commissioned Officer", the latter ranking with but after the rank of Lieutenant, and they were admitted to the wardroom, the WOs messes closing down. Collectively these officers were known as "Branch Officers", being retitled "Special Duties" officers in 1956. In 1998 the Special Duties list was merged with the General list of officers in the Royal Navy, all officers now having the same opportunity to reach the highest commissioned ranks.
The Return of Warrant Officers to the Royal Navy
In 1970 the non-commissioned rank of Fleet Chief Petty Officer (FCPO) was introduced, with equivalent status to a Army/RAF Warrant Officer, as the most senior rating status. In the 1990s the rate of FCPO was renamed to Warrant Officer (now known as Warrant Officer 1st Class).
Prior to 2004 the rate of Charge Chief Petty Officer was awarded to Air, Marine and Weapons Engineering Artificers as a technical (i.e. non-subtantive) rate in recognition of their superior trade knowledge and experience. The Charge Chief rate was eventually renamed in 2004 during a tri-service review of British ranks, and given the title Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) to align them with their Army/RAF counterparts. The rate of Warrant Officer was renamed Warrant Officer Class 1. The WO2 rank can still only be attained by engineering artificers (now called Engineering Technicians). Non-engineering ratings are advanced by selection from Chief Petty Officer direct to Warrant Officer Class 1(WO1).
Warrant officers in the Royal Marines
The development of the warrant officer ranks in the
Royal Marinesclosely paralleled those in the Royal Navy. As in the RN, by the Second World War there were Warrant Officers and Commissioned Warrant Officers, e.g. Staff Sergeant Majors, Commissioned Staff Sergeant Majors, Royal Marines Gunners, Commissioned Royal Marines Gunners, etc. As officers they were saluted by junior ranks in the Royal Marines and the Army. These all became (commissioned) Branch officer ranks in 1949, and Special Duties officer ranks in 1956.
The rank of
Sergeant MajorRM was equivalent to the Army rank of Warrant Officer Class I (and therefore had no equivalent in the Royal Navy), and the rank of Quartermaster Sergeantwas the equivalent of the Army rank of Warrant Officer Class II.
Warrant officers in the British Army
Warrant officers were generally introduced throughout the British Army under Army Order 70 of 1915, although
Regimental Sergeant Majors and a few other appointments (beginning in 1879, when Conductors of Stores and Supplies were warranted), had been warranted before that time. These earlier warranted appointments, and some others, became WOIs. The appointments that were designated WOIIs had previously been senior sergeants. Unlike in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, warrant officers in the Army were not considered officers and were not saluted.
Warrant Officers in the
Australian Defence Forceare the senior non-commissioned ranks.
Royal Australian Navy
The RAN has two Warrant Officer ranks. The first is Warrant Officer (WO), and is equivalent to an Army Warrant Officer Class One (WO1). The insignia for a WO in the RAN is the Australian coat of arms. Beneath the rank of WO, and equivalent to the Army's WO2 is
Chief Petty Officer(CPO). CPOs are not however classified as Warrant Officers.
The RAN also has the more senior rank of Warrant Officer of the Navy (WO-N). It is the most senior non-commissioned rank in the RAN and is also a singular rank. That is, it is only held by one person at any time.
Warrant Officers are not saluted because they are not a commissioned rank.
Australian Armyhas three Warrant Officer ranks. The most senior Warrant Officer rank is that of Warrant Officer (WO), introduced in 1991. This rank is held by the Regimental Sergeant Majorof the Army (RSM-A). It is the most senior non-commissioned rank in the Australian Army and is held by only one person at a time.
A Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) can hold the position of
Regimental Sergeant Major(RSM) or Battalion Sergeant Major (BnSM) of a battalion or equivalent unit, RSM of a brigade or larger formation, or occasionally a training or administrative position, particularly Quartermasterof a smaller unit. Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) can hold the position of Company Sergeant Major, Squadron Sergeant Majoror Battery Sergeant Major, or a number of training or administrative positions.
Army WO1s can be promoted to Captain, given what is known as a
Prescribed Service Commission. It is rare for an officer promoted from WO1 to rise past Major, or to be given a command position.
The insignia of a WO2 is a crown. The insignia of a WO1 is the Australian coat of arms (changed from the royal coat of arms in 1976). The insignia for the RSM-A is the Australian coat of arms surrounded by a wreath. All these are worn on the sleeve on the upper arm. [Australian Government, Department of Defence, [http://www.defence.gov.au/badges_of_rank.cfm Australian Defence Force Badges of Rank and Special Insignia] , accessed 19 March 2007.]
Warrant Officers in the Army are addressed by subordinates as "Sir" or "Ma'am". They can be addressed by commissioned officers above subaltern rank (ie. Officer Cadet, 2nd Lieutenant, Lieutenant) according to their appointment (e.g. "CSM" or "RSM").
Royal Australian Air Force
The RAAF has two Warrant Officer ranks. The first is Warrant Officer (WOFF) which is equivalent to an Army WO1. The insignia of a WOFF is the Australian coat of arms. Beneath the rank of WOFF, and equivalent to the Army's WO2 is
Flight Sergeant(FSGT). Although Flight Sergeants are not however classified as Warrant Officers, they have the same authority and pay of an army WO2.
The senior WO rank is Warrant Officer of the Air Force (WOFF-AF). It is the most senior non-commissioned rank in the RAAF and like the WO-N in the RAN and the RSM-A in the Army, there is only one WOFF-AF in the RAAF.
The insignia of the WOFF-AF is the Australian coat of arms surrounded by a wreath. The wreath denotes the singularity of the rank.
RAAF Establishments often have a Warrant Officer Discipline (WOD) posted to them. Larger formations such as Groups will also have a WOD. WODs are responsible for all disciplinary actions and carry an
ebonyor rosewood pace stick.
WOD is not a rank in itself, but an appointment. WOD Candidates must already hold the rank of WOFF and attend a WOD qualification course at RAAF Base Amberley.
In the Australian Defence Force Cadets (ADFC) the use of Warrant Officers is the same as the ADF.
Canadian Forces, Warrant Officers are the senior non-commissioned member(NCM) ranks. There are three ranks in this group: in the Army and Air Force, they are (in descending order):
Chief Warrant Officer(CWO) / French: "adjudant-chef (adjuc)"
Master Warrant Officer(MWO) / French: "adjudant-maître (adjum)"
* Warrant Officer (WO) / French: "adjudant (adj)"Their Naval equivalents are, respectively:
Chief Petty Officer 1st Class(CPO1) / French: "premier maître de 1re classe (pm 1)"
Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class(CPO2) / French: "premier maître de 2e classe (pm 2)"
Petty Officer 1st Class(PO1) / French: "maître de 1re classe (m 1)"
The rank insignia of the WO is a royal crown, worn on both forearms of the Service Dress tunic; in gold metal and green enamel miniature pins on the collar of the Service Dress shirt and outerwear coats (Army only); on
CADPATslipons worn in the middle of the chest, embroidered in tan (Army) or dark blue (Air Force) thread; and in "old gold" thread on blue slip-ons on both shoulders of other uniforms (Air Force only).
A WO of the
Canadian Grenadier Guardsand the Governor General's Foot Guardsis referred to and addressed as " Colour Sergeant" (CSgt). On ceremonial full dress and patrol dress uniforms, a Colour Sergeant wears a distinctive rank insignia, but on all other uniforms wears the WO's crown.
Forms of address
The etiquette of addressing Warrant Officers is as follows (assuming a member named Bloggins):
* Warrant Officer – initially as "Warrant Officer Bloggins" or "Warrant Bloggins", thereafter as "Warrant"; except in
foot guardsregiments, initially as "Colour Sergeant Bloggins", thereafter as "Colour Sergeant".
* Petty Officer 1st Class – initially as "Petty Officer Bloggins" or "PO Bloggins", thereafter as "PO".
* Chief Petty Officer 1st/2nd Class – initially as "Chief Petty Officer Bloggins" or "Chief Bloggins", thereafter as "Chief". The distinction between 1st and 2nd class (for both Chiefs and POs) is usually only made during formal awards, promotions or other presentations.
* Master Warrant Officer – initially as "Master Warrant Officer Bloggins", thereafter as "Sir" or "Ma'am" by subordinates, and as "Master Warrant Officer" by superiors. May also be addressed as "Sergeant-Major" if s/he holds that appointment.
* Chief Warrant Officer – initially as "Chief Warrant Officer Bloggins" by subordinates, thereafter as "Sir" or "Ma'am"; "Mr./Ms. Bloggins" by superiors; and, if s/he holds the title of Regimental Sergeant-Major, "RSM" by his/her Commanding Officer.
A WO is usually the most senior NCM in a
platoon, troop, or flight, and holds the position of Platoon WO (Pl WO), Troop WO (Tp WO), or Flight WO (Flt WO). This applies to independent organizations – e.g., an Air Reserve Flight – as well as sub-units of a larger unit – e.g., a Pioneer Platoon in an infantry regiment. If necessary, they may also act in the capacity of second-in-command (2IC) of such a sub-unit under a lieutenant.
WOs may also command detachments of larger organizations, for example Communication Detachment Great Village, near
Debert, Nova Scotia, which falls under the command of 726 Communication Squadron at CFB Halifax, almost 100 km away.
Commands, Bases and Formations also have Chief Warrant Officers - sometimes referred to as, for example "Brigade RSM", "Base RSM", etc.; there are special insignia for these, as well as for the most senior CWO of the entire Canadian Forces, known as the Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer.
Due to the unified nature of the CF, it is not unheard-of for Air Force WOs or even Navy PO1s – especially those of the so-called "purple trades", such as logistics or military police – to find themselves filling WO appointments in what are otherwise considered "hard" army units (such as Service Battalions or Communication Squadrons). Conversely, it is not impossible for an Army WO or Navy PO1 to find themselves filling a WO billet in an Air Force squadron – an example would be an Army Line Technician as the Technical WO of an Air Force base's telecommunications and information services squadron.
Messes and quarters
WOs generally mess and billet with other Warrant Officers and with
Sergeants, and their Naval equivalents, Chief Petty Officers and Petty Officers. Their mess on military bases or installations are generally named the "Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess". The Warrant Officers and sergeants mess in the Guards regiments are larger than that of other regiments, because of the inclusion of Lance Sergeants (equivalent to corporal in line regiments) in the same category.
The term "Warrant Officer" can be ambiguous; care must be taken to distinguish between Warrant Officers as a particular Army and Air Force rank, and Warrant Officers as a cadre, consisting of all ranks mentioned above (including Warrant Officer). Generally, whether one is referring to the rank or the cadre will be determined by context.
Singapore Armed Forces, Warrant Officers are former Specialists who have attained the rank of Master Sergeantand have been selected for and graduated from the "Joint Warrant Officer Course" at SAF Warrant Officer School. MINDEF, [http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/about_us/history/maturing_saf/v11n01_history.html History Snippets, 1992 - The SAF Warrant Officer School] , 7 January 2007. Accessed 19 March 2007.] Warrant officers rank between Specialists and commissioned officers. They ordinarily serve as Battalion, Brigade, etc. Regimental Sergeant Majors. A great deal of them serve as instructors and subject-matter experts in various training establishments. Warrant officers are also seen on the various staffs headed by the respective manpower, intelligence, etc. officers.
Interestingly (and possibly due to the Republic's dwindling birthrate and consequent reduction in conscripted enlistees selected for Commissioned Officer training,) Warrant Officers may also be given appointments usually reserved for commissioned officers such as platoon commander and
Officer Commanding(company commander) in certain training units as well as combat and support arms. Having had extensive practical experience through their career, Warrant Officers are often given staff officer appointments such as Quartermasterand Mechanized Transport Officerin training and non-combat units.
There are four grades of warrant officer:
Second Warrant Officer(2WO)
First Warrant Officer(1WO)
Master Warrant Officer(MWO)
Senior Warrant Officer(SWO)
These are the successor ranks to the previous warrant officer rank structure which consisted of Warrant Officer Class II and I only in the British style. Their rank insignia were the Singapore coat of arms, and the coat of arms in laurels respectively.
Warrant Officers usually have their own mess. For smaller units, this mess may be combined with the Officers' Mess as the Officers'/Warrant Officers' Mess. Warrant Officers wear their insignia on their epaulettes like officers, instead of on the sleeve like specialists and other soldiers. This signifies that Warrant Officers often have similar responsibilities to commissioned officers. Warrant Officers are addressed as "Sir" by those junior to them or by "Warrant (Surname)". They are also commonly addressed "Encik" ("Mister") by commissioned officers. They are not, however, saluted by enlisted ranks.
Swiss Army, warrant officers are senior NCOs ("höhere Unteroffiziere/sous-officiers supérieurs/sottuficiali superiori"). The reforms in 2001 increased the number of WO ranks from three (Feldwebel, Fourier and Adjutant Unteroffizier) to seven; they now range from Sergeant Major to Chief Warrant Officer.
In the British armed forces, a warrant officer is the highest non-commissioned rank (however, they are not technically
non-commissioned officers, but an additional rank structure above Senior NCOs), holding the Queen's (or King's) warrant, which is signed by the Secretary of State for Defence. Warrant officers are not saluted, but are usually addressed by their juniors as "Sir" or "Ma'am". Commissioned officers refer to Warrant officers as "Mister" and then their last name, e.g. "Mr. Smith". Warrant officers have all been promoted from NCO rank.
In 1973 warrant officers reappeared in the Royal Navy, but these appointments followed the Army model, with the new warrant officers being ratings rather than officers. They were initially known as
Fleet Chief Petty Officers (FCPOs), but were renamed Warrant Officers in the 1980s. They always ranked with Warrant Officers Class I in the British Army and Royal Marines and with Warrant Officers in the Royal Air Force.
In April 2004 the RN renamed the top rate Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) and created the new rate of Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) immediately below it, to replace the appointment of
Charge Chief Petty Officer. The latter was a senior Chief Petty Officer, but not a substantive rank in its own right. Only those who held the specific appointment of Charge Chief Artificer (a CCPO in a skilled technical trade) gained partial recognition as NATO OR-8 equivalent, as with other WO2s. In the Fleet Air Arm the Charge Chief Artificer was commonly referred to as the Senior Maintenance Rating (SMR) but continued to wear the traditional badges of the CPO which made it difficult to distinguish his seniority from the others on a Squadron or ship. With the Advent of the WO2 the SMR is now referred to as the Warrant Officer Engineering on most Naval Squadrons.
Royal Navy warrant rates are thus now the same as those in the Army and Royal Marines, and wear the same rank insignia. Like RM WO2s (but unlike Army WO2s), all RN WO2s wear the crown-in-wreath variation of the rank insignia.
In 2005 the Royal Navy introduced the appointment of Executive Warrant Officer (EWO) equivalent to that of the US Navy's Command Master Chief Petty Officer (CMCPO) and the Canadian Navy's Command Chief Petty Officer (CCPO). The position of EWO is potentially filled by an established WO1 however significant numbers of 'first appointment' WO1s have taken up these posts. This fact is at odds with the relative comparison with other military forces and their 'senior' cadres. The appointment as EWO on a non-capital ship will automatically mean that the incumbent is the senior non-commissioned Rank of the ship as there are no other WO1s borne in the ship's company. This is not the case on ships such as aircraft carriers where up to 9 WO1s are borne during non-Operational deployments. Equally, the same situation applies to RN Dockyards, shore based establishments and Royal Naval Air Stations where the majority of WO1s are borne. Unlike its US Navy and Canadian Forces counterparts, the Royal Navy EWO "does not" wear a different or modified rate badge to that of a normal WO1. Every Royal Navy establishment and ship has an EWO.
The Royal Marines now has the same warrant ranks as the Army, Warrant Officer Class 1 and Warrant Officer Class 2. The insignia are the same, but all RM WO2s wear the crown-in-wreath variation. As in the Army, all warrant officers have appointments by which they are known, referred to and addressed.
WO2 appointments are:
Company Sergeant Major
Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant
Corps Drum Major
WO1 appointments are:
Regimental Sergeant Major
Corps Bugle Major
The rank below WO2 is
Colour Sergeant, the RM equivalent of Staff Sergeant.
British Army, there are two warrant ranks, Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) and Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1), the latter being the senior of the two. It used to be more common to refer to these ranks as WOII and WOI (using Roman instead of Arabic numerals). Warrant Officer 1st Class or 2nd Class is incorrect. The rank immediately below WO2 is Staff Sergeant(or Colour Sergeant).
Every warrant officer has an appointment, and is usually referred to by his appointment rather than by his rank.
WO1s wear a royal coat of arms on the lower sleeve. In the insignia of those holding the most senior appoinment of Conductor this is surrounded by a wreath. Appointments held by WO1s include:
Academy Sergeant Major(AcSM)
Accountant Sergeant Major(obsolete)
Armament Sergeant Major
Armourer Sergeant Major
Artificer Sergeant Major(ASM)
* Clerk of Works Sergeant Major
* Conductor (Cdr)
Draughtsman Sergeant Major(obsolete)
Farrier Corporal Major
Farrier Sergeant Major
Foreman of Signals (Information Systems)(FofS IS)
Foreman of Signals(FofS)
Foreman of Signals Sergeant Major(obsolete)
Foreman of Works Sergeant Major(obsolete)
Garrison Sergeant Major(GSM)
Lithographer Sergeant Major(obsolete)
* Master Gunner 1st Class
* Master Gunner 2nd Class
Orderly Room Sergeant Major(ORSM)
* Regimental Corporal Major (RCM)
Regimental Sergeant Major(RSM)
Royal Artillery Sergeant Major
Saddler Sergeant Major
Schoolmaster 1st Class(obsolete)
Sergeant Major Instructor(SMI)
Staff Sergeant Major(SSM)
* Staff Sergeant Major 1st Class (obsolete)
Supervisor (Information Systems)(Supvr (IS)) (obsolete)
Supervisor (Radio)(Supvr (R)) (obsolete)
* Sub-Conductor (obsolete)
Surveyor Sergeant Major
Yeoman of Signals(YofS)
Yeoman of Signals (Electronic Warfare)(YofS (EW))WO2s wear a crown on the lower sleeve, surrounded by a wreath for Quartermaster Sergeants and all WO2s in the Royal Army Medical Corps (The wreath was used for all WOIIs from 1938 to 1947). Appointments held by WO2s include:
Accountant Quartermaster Sergeant(obsolete)
Armament Quartermaster Sergeant
Armourer Quartermaster Sergeant
Artificer Quartermaster Sergeant(AQMS)
* Band Corporal Major (BCM)
Band Sergeant Major(BSM)
Battery Sergeant Major(BSM)
* Clerk of Works Quartermaster Sergeant
Company Sergeant Major(CSM)
Draughtsman Quartermaster Sergeant
Engineer Clerk Quartermaster Sergeant
Farrier Quartermaster Sergeant
Foreman of Signals (Information Systems)(FofS IS)
Foreman of Signals(FofS)
Foreman of Signals Quartermaster Sergeant(obsolete)
Foreman of Works Quartermaster Sergeant(obsolete)
Garrison Quartermaster Sergeant
Lithographer Quartermaster Sergeant(obsolete)
* Master Gunner 3rd Class
Orderly Room Quartermaster Sergeant(ORQMS)
Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor(QMSI)
* Regimental Quartermaster Corporal (RQMC)
Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant(RQMS)
Saddler Quartermaster Sergeant
Sergeant Major Signals(SMS)
* Squadron Corporal Major (SCM)
Squadron Sergeant Major(SSM)
Staff Quartermaster Sergeant
Supervisor (Information Systems)(Supvr (IS))
Supervisor (Radio)(Supvr (R))
Surveyor Quartermaster Sergeant
Technical Quartermaster Sergeant(TQMS)
Troop Sergeant Major(TSM)
Yeoman of Signals(YofS)
From 1938, there was also a rank of Warrant Officer Class III (WOIII). The only appointments held by this rank were
Platoon Sergeant Major, Troop Sergeant Majorand Section Sergeant Major. The WOIII wore a crown on his lower sleeve (which is why all WOIIs switched to a crown in a wreath during this period). The rank was placed in suspension in 1940 and no new appointments were made, but it was never officially abolished.
WOs are officially designated using their rank and appointment. For instance, WO2 (CSM) Smith or WO1 (BM) Jones. However, they would usually be referred to as "CSM Smith" and "Bandmaster Jones". WO2s holding Sergeant Major or Corporal Major appointments are often referred to as the "Sergeant Major" or the "Corporal Major", but WO1s are only ever referred to using their full appointment or its abbreviation (the "RSM" or the "Garrison Sergeant Major", for instance).
How warrant officers are addressed depends, as does much else in the British Army, on the traditions of their regiments or corps. However, there are some general rules of thumb:
* WO1s are usually addressed as "Mr.
surname" by officers and by their peers, and as "sir" or "Mr. surname, sir" by their subordinates (for female WO1s, "Mrs., Ms. or Miss surname", "ma'am", and "Mrs., Ms. or Miss surname, ma'am", respectively); in some Regiments only the RSM's Commanding Officer, and he alone, has the privilege of addressing him as "RSM"; all others use the normal form of address for WO1s;
* WO2s are commonly addressed as "Sergeant Major", "Corporal Major" or "Q" for Quartermaster Sergeants ("RQ" for the Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, etcetera) as appropriate, but only ever as "sir" or "ma'am" by subordinates.
* A notable exception to the above is the
Foot Guardsand Honourable Artillery Companywhere the Regimental Sergant Major is known as, and addressed by officers as, the Sergeant Major and the Company (HAC Squadron) Sergeants Major are addressed as Company (Squadron) Sergeant Major. [RMAS Lecture OS005 - The Exemplary Officer, Military Etiquette]
The four most senior warrant officer appointments in the British Army are generally considered to be, in descending order of seniority:
Royal Logistic Corps
Royal Artillery Sergeant Major, Royal Artillery
Academy Sergeant Major, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Garrison Sergeant Major, London District
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Forceinherited the ranks of Warrant Officer Class I and II from the Royal Flying Corps, part of the Army, in 1918. It also inherited the rank badges of the Royal Arms and a crown respectively. Until the 1930s, these ranks were often known as Sergeant Major 1st and 2nd Class. In 1939 the RAF abolished the rank of WOII and retained WOI as simple Warrant Officer, which it remains to this day. The RAF has no equivalent to WO2 (NATO OR-8), WO being equivalent to WO1 (NATO OR-9) and wearing the Royal Arms. Warrant officers are addressed and referred to as "Mr", "Mrs" or "Miss" ("Mr Smith" etc), or as "sir" or "ma'am" by their juniors. They do not have appointments as in the Army or Royal Marines. They rank above Flight Sergeants and below Pilot Officers, the lowest commissioned rank. In 1946 the RAF renamed its aircrewwarrant officers Master Aircrew, a designation which still survives. In 1950, it renamed warrant officers in technical trades Master Technicians, a designation which only survived until 1964.
The Sea Cadet Corps have recently introduced WO2s as part of Senior Rates advancmentfact|date=July 2008. Eligible CPO's may be invited to attend the WO Selection board, and will be rated WO2 on successful completion. Each area may appoint one of these successful candidates WO1fact|date=June 2008. The appointment of WO1 lasts for 5 years, and on completion, the WO1 has the option to extend his area appointment, go into the wardroom as a Lieutenant (SCC) RNR, or return to their unit role, retaining the rate of WO1 (SCC).fact|date=June 2008
ACF and CCF (Army)
The rank of warrant officer does not exist in the ACF and CCF (Army) - it is often misused by those holding appointments as Sergeants Major (either Cadets or AIs) in the CCF (Army) and ACF who are not holders of Warrants and thus not Warrant Officers.
=ATC and CCF (RAF)=
Air Cadet Organisationhas a single Cadet Warrant Officer rank in the same way as the RAF - they are always addressed as "Warrant Officer", "Warrant", "CWO" or "Cadet Warrant Officer" (Warrant Officer is the correct form of address, [ [http://220.127.116.11/aircadets/pdf/acp31sec1.pdf] "ACP 31 Section 1", "HQAC Official Site"] ] [ [http://18.104.22.168/aircadets/pdf/acp31sec5.pdf] "ACP 31 Section 5", "HQAC Official Site"] ] but curiously is rarely used), and not as "Sir/Ma'am" . ATC Adult staff promoted to Warrant Officer have the title WO (ATC), and are addressed in the same way as regular RAF Warrant Officers - i.e. as Sir/Ma'am by subordinates and as Mr/Mrs/Miss by Officers. Both types wear a crown as the insignia, rather than the royal coat of arms - the insignia for a CWO has a laurel wreath to distinguish it from WO (ATC). Some WOs (ATC) are authorised to wear the coat of arms (referred to coloquially as " Tate & Lyles", either as ex-regular WOs or for time served. New WO(ATC) having previously served as a WO (RAF, RN, RM) or WO1 (Army) may wear the Royal Arms upon appointment. The only way in which WO's (ATC) would be allowed to wear the Coat of Arms is if a change in policy brought the non-commissioned ATC uniformed staff under the Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch) of the Royal Air Force (as the commissioned officers are), and thus holding an appointment in the RAF VR(T) would allow the wearing of the Coat of Arms.fact|date=June 2008
Warrant Officer (United States)
Comparative military ranks
British Army Other Ranks rank insignia
RAF enlisted ranks
Chief Warrant Officer
* [http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Pers-Warrant%20Rank.htm A Brief History of Warrant Rank in the Royal Navy by Lt Cdr G Mason RN Rtd]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.