Chief warrant officers should be addressed with the respect that they've earned.

A chief warrant officer (CWO) in the United States Army, Marines or Navy, receives the initial warrant from the secretary of the service branch served in. Upon promotion, a commission is gained directly from the president of the United States. A CWO is a specialist in a chosen field of knowledge and expertise, unlike regular officers who fall under the generalist category, explains Defense. gov. In addition, a chief warrant officer is a direct representative of the president. Addressing a warrant officer depends on who is corresponding with the CWO and in what capacity such correspondence takes place.

Address a CWO as “Mr. or Ms. (insert last name)” in cases where the individual addressing the chief warrant officer is a subordinate in an informal setting. There are other informal terms such as “Chief” in the Army or “Gunner” in the Marines, but such titles do not gain acceptance among all chief warrant officers and may create confusion when addressing Navy personnel.

Use the title of “Chief Warrant Officer” in formal settings when the individual addressing the CWO is a subordinate. Other acceptable titles include “Sir" or "Ma’am," but the most appropriate title is “Chief Warrant Officer.”

Refer to a CWO as “Chief Warrant Officer (insert last name)." For example, "Chief Warrant Officer Sanders" is appropriate if the person speaking to the CWO is a superior officer. To maintain professionalism demanded of military standards and to set the example for enlisted soldiers, all superior commissioned officers and other chief warrant officers should never substitute a formal title with other popular terms, such as “Chief,” even in informal settings.

Address a CWO as “Mr. or Ms. (insert last name),” if you are a civilian. This is appropriate in both formal and informal settings.


  • By breaking from military standards and using slang terms, such as "Chief," often heard in informal settings, some chief warrant officers may view this as a sign of disrespect for authority and a representation of laziness in adhering to military standards. Personnel should avoid using such terms in all settings.