The Making of a Warrant: WOCs begin Phase II at Virginia’s RTI

Nine warrant officer candidates conduct practical writing exercises during the first drill weekend of Phase II of the Warrant Officer Candidate School April 21, 2013, held at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute.  (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Nine warrant officer candidates conduct practical writing exercises during the first drill weekend of Phase II of the Warrant Officer Candidate School April 21, 2013, held at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – The warrant officer candidates enrolled in Class 13-001 of the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute’s Warrant Officer Candidate School, started Phase II of the program April 19, 2013, at Fort Pickett. The nine candidates remaining by the end of the weekend, down from 10 at the start, came primarily from the Virginia Army National Guard, with one candidate, from the U.S. Army Reserve, traveling from North Carolina to attend the course.

This first weekend of Phase II is the first of five drill weekends that make up the second phase of WOCS, all of which will take place at the RTI. The requirements for the second phase of WOCS are outlined by the U.S. Army’s Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Ala.

“It’s an orientation to an extent,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Temple, WOCS commander. “But it’s also a highly stressed, action-packed weekend. Their training days are full and it’s a very stressful initial weekend for them.”

Before arriving at Fort Pickett for Phase II, all Virginia candidates previously completed Pre-WOCS, a Virginia Guard prerequisite for any Soldier hoping to attend WOCS that gives candidates a weekend-long glimpse into what they can expect from WOCS, and a chance for them to determine if they’re up for the challenge.

All candidates also completed WOCS Phase I, the distance learning portion of the course, prior to starting Phase II at the RTI.

The weekend began Friday night with an orientation on Phase II, outlining for the candidates what they can expect over the next five months. As the drill progressed, leadership assignments followed, as did additional duties and counseling sessions designed to ensure all candidates are aware of and understand the course expectations. An Army physical fitness test was also administered early Saturday morning and the candidates spent time in the classroom learning effective writing techniques and military history.

“We’re just getting into our leadership positions, trying to figure out how things work, what we need to do, and trying to come together as a class as best as we can,” said Warrant Officer Candidate James Crooks, from Company B, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Temple works with warrant officer candidates during the first drill weekend of Phase II of the Warrant Officer Candidate School April 21, 2013, held at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Temple works with warrant officer candidates during the first drill weekend of Phase II of the Warrant Officer Candidate School April 21, 2013, held at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Phase II of WOCS is more than just the time spent at drill. The candidates have additional requirements they must complete throughout the month, forcing them to work together to accomplish tasks while they’re away from the schoolhouse.

“Drills are usually just the executions of the different events,” Temple said. “All the planning and all the things that make events successful all happens in between the drills.”

Candidates primarily communicate through email during the weeks in between drill weekends to plan such things as their class community project and their sign and song presentation. Email traffic between candidates is monitored by either Temple, or the senior training, advising and counseling officer, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wayne Sexton, to ensure collective participation among the WOCs.

“We’ve got our eye on them at all times,” said Temple. “They’re busy at work, and we get that, but they’re also committed to this program. They signed up for it, so they have to participate.”

Beyond the various requirements of WOCS, there is also a significant focus on both time management and attention to detail.

“This is a time management course,” Sexton stressed to the candidates after they acted prematurely on their carefully-calibrated schedule.

Temple explained that even though the “things we pay attention to might seem ridiculous at first,” the detail-orientated course pushes the candidates to understand the bigger picture, to maintain the standard and to prioritize their most important tasks. “As it progresses, and they start fully understanding what is required of them, they start doing more outside of the box thinking and trying to figure out how to troubleshoot.”

Once the candidates successfully complete Phase II of WOCS, they will go on to Phase III, consisting of a two-week annual training period at Camp Atterbury, Ind.

Warrant officer candidates conduct eight-count pushups during the first drill weekend of Phase II of the Warrant Officer Candidate School April 21, 2013, held at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute. The weekend included an orientation briefing on what the WOCs can expect during Phase II, as well as classroom time focused on such topics as military history, and effective writing techniques. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Warrant officer candidates conduct eight-count pushups during the first drill weekend of Phase II of the Warrant Officer Candidate School April 21, 2013, held at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute. The weekend included an orientation briefing on what the WOCs can expect during Phase II, as well as classroom time focused on such topics as military history, and effective writing techniques. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

This story is the second in a multi-part series on the Virginia National Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School.

Part One: The Making of a Warrant: Potential warrant officers get head start at Virginia’s Pre-WOCS

More on the Virginia Guard’s WOCS program:

Photos: Warrant officer candidates begin WOCS Phase II – April 21, 2013

Potential warrant officers get head start at Virginia’s Pre-WOCS