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Air defense offers new warrants $60K bonuses as the branch expands

The Army’s air defense artillery branch is working to attract new warrant officers by dishing out a $60,000 incentive to soldiers — and even airmen and sailors — who complete training.

The recruiting push comes as the service recognizes how far it lagged behind in air defense in recent decades. The Army has reinvested in short range air defense in particular, establishing a new Stinger missile course and committing to stand up 10 SHORAD battalions by 2024 to defend maneuver troops from aerial threats.

“We always need three warrant officers per [air defense artillery] unit and 12 warrant officers per battalion,” ADA Proponent warrant officer CWO 4 Jonathon Boone said in an Army news release.

“Being trusted, having your word as law, is fantastic,” Boone said. “If you’re trying to be a force multiplier, or actually create change in your organization, then warrant officer is a fantastic route to go.”

The Army needs 68 new air defense warrant officers each year and train them in three specialties: command and control systems integrator, air and missile defense tactician and air and missile defense systems technician. The last two are the ones for which warrant applicants can receive the $60,000 bonus.

Although the Army often feeds these billets through its existing cohort of enlisted air defense troops, the service is accepting applications from service members in the Air Force and Navy as well.

New warrants will be paired with an expanding force of other air defense troops. The service had 519 positions for soldiers in the enlisted air and missile defense crewmember job as of July 2019. But the plan is to quadruple that in about five years.

“We will have one of the fastest-growing MOSs in the Army,” Sgt. 1st Class Arianna Cook, senior career advisor for 14Ps at the ADA School, said in a separate release this summer.

A lot of the branch’s growth has been driven by Russian military assets on display in Ukraine.

The conflict highlights how Russian troops were learning to blend unmanned aerial systems, electronic warfare jamming equipment and long-range rocket artillery to synchronize effects on the battlefield.

And their combined use of self-propelled and man-portable air defense systems within maneuver formations “shot the Ukrainian air force out of the sky," wrote Brig. Gen. Randall McIntire, then-commandant of the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery School, in a 2017 analysis.

“While UASs are more common on the battlefield, attack helicopters continue to constitute the greatest single threat to maneuver forces," McIntire wrote. "Some potential threat nations are growing their manned aerial fleets in both quantity and quality.”

Personnel interested in becoming an air defense warrant must complete Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and the ADA Warrant Officer Basic Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Boone, the ADA Proponent Warrant Officer, maintains a Facebook page through which soldiers can find more information on the application process.

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