A warrant officer (WO) is an mid management officer in a military organization who is designated an officer by a Royal warrant, as distinguished from a commissioned officer who is designated an officer by a commission, or from non-commissioned officer who is designated an officer by virtue of seniority.
The rank was first used in the English Royal Navy in the 13 Century. There were 4 grades of WO and these experienced sailors all had to haveone thing in common, the holder of the rank had be literate as they dealt with munitions, victuals and stores. The rank system as recognised today was implemented in 1879 by the British Army. Currently the rank is used in many other countries, including the Commonwealth nations, and the United States. Outside the United States they are effectively senior non-commissioned officers with long military experience. In many countries they are in a cadre of their own between non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers by the nature of the Royal or Government Warrant they hold.
Warrant Officer is a rank between Flight Sergeant and Pilot Officer in the Royal Air Force and the ATC. In 1938 the RAF removed the WO2 rank as part of a huge modernising reorganisation. An RAF WO wears the Royal Coat of Arms (RCoA) badge the same as WO1’s in the Army, RN & RM, it is affectionatly know as “Tate and Lyles” after the RCoA logo found on the sugar companies packaging. Aircrew WO’s in the RAF are known as Master Aircrew and wear a different badge but it does include the RcoA in the design. ATC WO’s who have not held the Royal Warrant in Regular or Reserve service wear the single large Crown (similar to the WO2 badge in the other services) but are not known as WO2’s.
Warrant Officers in the United States are technical leaders and specialists, and Chief Warrant Officers are commissioned by the President of the United States (thus saluted) and take the same oath as regular commissioned officers. They may be technical experts with long service or direct entrants, notably for U.S. Army helicopter pilots.