Company Process Integration
As a new Platoon Leader (PL), I wasn’t aware of my additional duties until I saw them written in my first OER. There they were: Arms Room Officer and Safety Officer. I did help reorganize the Arms Room, but the responsibilities of an Arms Room Officer go far beyond the actions I performed. This is all too common as Company Commander’s (CO) fail to prioritize and forecast administrative responsibilities. The most common time and method a PL is assigned an additional duty is when a higher echelon dictates an inspection in which the Commander needs an Officer to prepare for that inspection. It’s hard to fault a Commander for this because they have more responsibilities than they can effectively manage. Meanwhile, the PLs are often under challenged, and assigned very little responsibilities that fall outside of their inherent PL roles, thus making them less prepared for future assignments.
There are many ways to manage a Company. The most effective Companies have strong internal processes. Below I will illustrate a proven and effective way to manage Company process that ensures success in all administrative responsibilities, and does not expose the Commander to undue risk. This method is dynamic, and if you have not been in a Company with strong systems, it will feel very foreign to you. In the following paragraphs I will demonstrate an efficient way to manage any Company, Battery, or Troop by showcasing techniques utilizing integrated systems through a Company Staff.
I was first exposed to the concept of a Company Staff by my First Sergeant when I was an Executive Officer. “Sir, why are we so jacked up, we have no systems” 1SG Fader said. “All three PLs use a different format to write their awards, and they keep getting kicked back for the same corrections.” 1SG Fader sat me down in a chair and explained to me how First PL was going to act as the Company S1, he was going to proofread every award, and he was going to track them. We implemented a system of adding responsibilities to PLs. Our PLs got a lot smarter, and our administrative processes improved drastically.
Fast forward to my Company Command, and my Brigade Commander and Brigade S3 starting talking to Commanders about establishing a Company Staff. At this point, I was already familiar with this because of the mentorship of 1SG Fader, but the other 30 Commanders in the room never saw or heard of this. We continued to work on this, and my Company performed well with administrative tasks. It turns out that my Brigade Commander taught this technique to 1SG Fader when he was his Battalion Commander, AND the Brigade S3 was 1SG’s his former Company Commander.
The components of a Process Integration Company Staff:
- Weekly Training Room Requirements
- Commodity Shops
- Additional Duties
- Company Staff
- Training Management
- Battle Rhythm
- Training Meeting
Weekly Training Room Requirements: The reason 1SG Fader was so adamant on a Company Staff is because a Company 1SG has so many responsibilities that they do not have time to proof read awards multiple times. Below is a list of Weekly Training Room Requirements that the 1SG is responsible for. The best 1SGs I’ve seen keep this as a checklist and go through it weekly.
Commodity Shops: All Commodity Shops shall be supervised by an NCO and Officer team in which their normal place of work is not in that shop. Traditional commodity shops include the Arms Room, NBC Room, Supply Room, and Communications Room. The novice CO will place the Executive Officer directly in charge of all shops. That same XO will be spread thin too to manage all the XO duties, while the PLs are being under challenged. Thus an opportunity is wasted to mentor new PLs.
A veteran CO will assign each PL an extra duty that corresponds with the commodity shop, and the FSO will assist the XO in managing the supply room. The XO is the Chief of Staff and the PLs answer to the XO in orders of staff business. This is similar to how a BN XO manages a BN Staff.
To make it easy, think of your Platoons numbers as they relate to Staff Shops 1 through 3. 1st PL is the S1, 2nd PL is the S2, 3rd PL is the S3, and the FSO is the HQ PL and the S4-S9.
It won’t always be clear cut, but this rational will help you keep organized.
This will make more sense when we discuss the rest of the Officer and NCO additional duties.
With this rational:
- 1st PL is the S1: NBC Room
- 2nd PL is the S2: Arms Room
- 3rd PL is the S3: Communications Room
- FSO/HQ PL is the S4-S9: Supply Room
Let’s discuss the Arms Room because it’s more complex and that’s where most of the issues will arise. There are so many things that can go wrong in an Arms room that will get you into trouble as a Commander. Your Arms Room officer is your 2nd PL, and should be paired with an NCO from the Platoon to inspect the Arms room to include daily barrel counts, and ammunition count if applicable. Weapons should be arranged in serial number order as they appear on the property book with corresponding optics in order as well. A Company MAL should exist and be continuously updated, and weapons should have an administrative number assigned to them which correspond with each Platoon. For example, weapons 1-10 are HQ, 11-40 are 1st PLT and so on. The CO’s weapon is #1, XO #2, 1SG #3, and all the weapons should flow in this fashion. In fact, all of your equipment in the Arms Room (NODS, M240s, M249s, etc) should be organized in the same manner.
This requires an upfront investment of time, but you will recoup that time because your monthly inventories will be much more efficient. Plus, if you have to deploy to an area where your Platoons are separate, you easily can look at your hand receipt and know where your equipment is.
Typically the Arms Room is managed by an E5 with a lower enlisted assistant. They will likely not have the capability, or influence to do the above, but your Arms Room Officer will certainly grow as a professional, be more prepared by taking on this role, and your Company will be much more organized.
Additional Duties. Similar to Officers, NCOs don’t often know their additional duties, nor do their PLs have any role in their supervision. Below is a list of common NCO Additional Duties.
By aligning the duties with Platoons in the 1st PLT = S1 process, the duties align by Platoon and are assigned an NCO. The PL is responsible for that NCO and supervises execution of those duties. This allows the Company to take a more forward looking approach because you are maximizing the use of your NCOs and PLs.
Highlighted Additional Duties through Lessons Learned.
- Supply Room OIC- The XO owns supply, but this officer supervises and ensures Supply Room SOP exists and is adhered to. Also, assists the Supply Sergeant to get assets he needs and keeps the Commander informed of issues.
- Master Fitness- Manages APFT records and assists the Commander in establishing fitness goals and dates for major Physical Training events.
- Key Control Custodian- Key Management requires extra supervision to provide accountability for keys and access into restricted areas. An Officer and NCO team need to work together on this.
- Family Readiness- FRG is a Commander’s Program but involves time consuming tasks like reserving a facility for your meeting, getting a grill for a BBQ, and managing Company Facebook page. By assigning FRG OIC and NCOIC you empower subordinate leaders to take your FRG to the next level while still owning this as a Commander.
- Knowledge Management– Serves as the single conduit for continuity, how many Companies still have files from before deployment? Manages Company portal page, keeps all range packets and MOIs and becomes a HUB for information. Serves as an LNO to PlatoonLeader.com to share information.
- Master Driver/ Maintenance- The motor pool and our vehicles are areas we frequently neglect. Empower an Officer and NCO team to ensure maintenance is conducted properly and dispatches are filled out.
- Master Gunner- Manages Company Marksmanship files and serves as subject matter expert for weapons and optics.
- Training OIC- Prepares Company Training Meeting slides like a BN S3. Each of your PLs should have packets for Training meetings reflecting their Training and an update to each of their additional duties. This will save you time as a Commander and assist a young Lieutenant in learning Training Management. Your Company Training meetings will benefit from this!
Training Meetings. Training meetings are the lynch pin to your Company Staff. In additional to standard training meeting topics, PLs brief their additional duties.
Regardless of how you run your company, I challenge you to take a deliberate approach to your administrative processes. Your company will be more efficient, your leaders will grow more, and you as a Commander can focus on training. The set of checks and balances I proposed have proven to work, and given a similar thoughtful approach, you will undoubtedly be successful.
Best of luck!