The Army is developing policy that opens the door for retired active-duty warrant officers to continue serving in the Army Reserve or National Guard while still drawing their pensions.
The service has “approved” the initiative, according to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Rick Knowlton, the senior warrant officer adviser for the Army Talent Management Task Force, who spoke during a Thursday Association of the United States Army discussion panel.
“We have approximately 600 warrant officers retiring in the next 12 months,” Knowlton told Army Times in a follow-up phone interview. “That is [at least] 12,000 years worth of experience that’s walking out the door. Why would we not see if it matches up with what we need in the Guard and Reserve?”
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth signed a directive authorizing the program on July 1.
“It’s just the beginning of a developing process,” Knowlton said. The Guard and Reserve are currently working to develop the program and identify their needs, he added.
Once implemented, the policy could help the reserve components fill a growing number of vacant positions for the Army’s technical experts.
The Army Reserve is currently “about 1,000 warrant officers short,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Patrick Nelligan, the USAR’s command chief warrant officer. “We’re going to be very specific on to whom we would offer this opportunity based on your skillset, based on your grade…and where you’re willing to be assigned.”
“The Army National Guard currently has 2,333 warrant officer vacancies out of 10,234 authorized positions,” according to Air Force Maj. Matt Murphy, a National Guard Bureau spokesperson. “The Army National Guard relies on warrant officers for their technical expertise across more than 60 military occupational specialties.”
Retired warrants who continue with part-time service must waive a day of their pension — and a day of any VA disability pay they receive — for each calendar day they drill or train. There is bipartisan support in Congress to exempt retirees in critical shortage areas from this requirement, and a bill from Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, and Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., is currently under consideration.
Retirees in grades lower than chief warrant officer 5 can be considered for further promotion in the reserve components, too.
Warrant officers who take advantage of the program may be eligible for skill bonuses and could also increase their pensions — the directive says that troops can convert to a non-regular, or reserve component, retirement once they end their service.
Those retirements will factor in any promotions and additional years of reserve component service, and may result in a greater monthly benefit.
Retired warrants who rejoin could become eligible for dual-status technician civilian jobs as well, according to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Teresa Domeier, the Guard’s command chief warrant officer.
Those jobs, which require part-time reserve component membership, operate on the federal general schedule pay scale and could let retired warrants work towards a second retirement.
Knowlton added that the talent management task force is also considering other options for meeting reserve component warrant needs, such as direct commissions for cyber warrant officers.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army. He focuses on investigations, personnel concerns and military justice. Davis, also a Guard veteran, was a finalist in the 2023 Livingston Awards for his work with The Texas Tribune investigating the National Guard's border missions. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill.