Chief Warrant Officer 5 John Robinson joined the top 3 percent of field artillery warrant officers in his promotion ceremony April 1.
Next month, he’ll be in a class by himself as one of only three warrant officers ever to graduate from the School of Advanced Military Studies, and the only chief warrant officer 5 to do so.
Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, commandant of the Command and General Staff College, conducted Robinson’s promotion ceremony. The two first met while serving during Operation Anaconda in 2002.
“When you think about goals and you think about professionalism and you think about confidence, this is the kind of guy you want around,” Caslen said.
Robinson, a targeteer, was among the second class of warrant officers to attend Intermediate Level Education in 2009-2010. He applied for SAMS and was selected, along with two other warrant officers. Robinson noted that slots were not held for warrant officers, and that his application was evaluated in the same pool as all other SAMS applicants.
Bruce Stanley, Robinson’s SAMS seminar leader, said that having a chief warrant officer with 23 years experience in the military was a benefit to traditional officers in SAMS. Stanley said most Army majors have about 10 to 15 years in the Army once they reach SAMS.
“He set a very high standard almost from the first day,” Stanley said of Robinson. “His intellectual curiosity put things into perspective. That kind of experience makes SAMS more of a challenge.”
In Robinson’s next assignment, he’ll serve as a planner for U.S. Army Central Command. He’ll have the opportunity to live closer to his son, Robert, who is attending the University of Florida.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ronnie Patrick, who works for the CGSC Dean of Academics, said the rank comes with responsibilities.
“People will be looking at him for advice,” Patrick said. “Other warrant officers will come to him. He’ll be among experts in his field.”
Robinson entered the military with a bachelor’s degree in education. He was a high school history teacher. He enlisted and served for six years. While a noncommissioned officer, he earned a master’s degree in criminal justice.
Robinson decided he wanted to become an officer if he was going to commit to a career in the Army. He had three choices: Army Officer Candidate School, the Army Green to Gold program or Warrant Officer Career College. He already had a master’s degree, so Green to Gold was unnecessary. If he became an officer, Robinson was concerned he would lose control of his career path. So, he chose WOCC.
“I’m all about managing my own career,” he said. “If I make the decision to be an officer, it’s because I like the Army. And if I like the Army, it’s because I like what I’m doing.”
Page 2 of 2 - Robinson also earned a doctorate in education, called an EDD. While attending ILE, he earned a master’s in international relations. Through SAMS, he will earn a master’s degree in military art and science.
Caslen said with five educational degrees and education at CGSC through ILE and SAMS, Robinson now has the professional military education to match his experience.
Robinson was also the first warrant officer to attend FA 30 Information Operations qualification course at Fort Leavenworth seven years ago. He was also the first Army officer ever to attend the Air Force Information Operations qualification course.
Because Robinson entered the Army during a drawdown after Operation Desert Storm, many commissioned officers’ positions were vacated. He was asked to fill them as a warrant officer — someone with less pay and more technical expertise. Most jobs were above his pay grade. His last job working for the Third Army was intended for a chief warrant officer 5, but he served as a 4.
“The staff education at Fort Rucker (Warrant Officer Career College) is excellent, however, when you’re working with higher echelons at combatant command, the level expectation goes up too,” he said. “This is called the Command and General Staff College for a reason — it trains general staff officers. I’ve been a staff officer for 12 years.”
Robinson said although allowing warrant officers to attend CGSC is not policy, there may be a few cases in which he believes the Army could benefit. Giving Army majors more exposure to warrant officers and their skills as future commanders was part of Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV’s intention when he allowed warrant officers to attend CGSC. Robinson is unsure if this program will continue.
Regardless, Robinson said he was grateful for his experience at CGSC’s premier institutions.
“Col. (Wayne) Grisby (SAMS director) likes to call SAMS the crown jewel of the Army,” Robinon said. “I’ve been in the Army 23 years, and I would say he’s right. It’s the crown jewel of the Army in terms of education; it’s got the most professional professors on the planet.”