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NEWS | April 11, 2024

Army Reserve Medical Commands’ warrant officers close the knowledge gap

By Lt. Col. Kristin Porter 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support)

Senior warrant officers of the three Army Reserve medical commands determined in 2023 that there was a knowledge base gap in their warrant officer population. This led to Army Reserve Medical Command (ARMEDCOM) hosting the first warrant officer stand-up last year, and the 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support) hosting a medical command-focused Reserve Component Warrant Officer Standup in Sloan, Nevada, March 8-10, 2024.

“We took a look at the warrant officer population as a whole [in medical commands], not just medical service warrant officers and determined there is a training gap. We have Adjutant General warrant officers; we have Quartermaster and Engineer warrant officers that are assigned to medical units. And there's a gap in the knowledge base especially from those types of warrant officers on understanding what medical units need,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Matthew Brenner, the 807th MC(DS) Command Chief Warrant Officer and the command’s senior maintenance officer.

Non-medical warrant officers are assigned to medical commands often as broadening assignments.

“The engineers, for instance, the 120A [military occupational specialty], which is construction and engineering, they're assigned to the field hospital. The requirements and the skillset for orchestrating, setting up, power, water, and all the utilities of a field hospital are completely different from vertical or horizontal construction. There is the same base skillset, but this type of form is critical because now they can interact with other construction engineers and understand the big picture and how they support theater,” continued Brenner.

Primary instruction at the standup was looking at the force design update, moving from the Medical Command (Deployment Support) to the Theater Medical Command structure and capability.

“We had senior leaders from the medical commands brief multiple topics, the Medical Center of Excellence doctrine division brief the doctrine for the TMC, and then we had follow-on conversations about Defender Europe 23, the first ever Theater Medical Command exercise. Then we took a look at the ‘integrated CONUS medical operation plan,’ but [refocused toward] large scale combat operations and how to interact and integrate as warrant officers into the medical formations,” said Brenner.

“Day one, the senior warrant officers in the room thought it was incredible. The junior warrant officers thought, ‘this is way beyond our knowledge base,’” said Brenner.

Day two was warrant officer centric professional development and networking, with warrant officers sharing their knowledge and experience.

“Then senior warrant officers thought ‘we've had all this before,’ and the junior warrant officers thought the training was significant to career progression and relevant at their level,” said Brenner.

Attendees completed an exit survey to shape future standups and allow planners to tailor the message to their audience.

“Right now, it’s an effort for warrant officers to understand what they’re encountering, more sharing knowledge and networking. We'll see – it may eventually turn into something that has an onboarding process for warrant officers assigned to medical units,” said Brenner.

Brenner will transition to the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support) Command Chief Warrant Officer position in May, where he will continue planning the 2025 Reserve Component Warrant Officer Standup. Brenner also plans to revise his published health service maintenance officer handbook and include a generalized warrant officer mentorship handbook for warrants new to medical commands.