The purpose of this article is to teach you about Army Battalions, Battalion Commanders and the Battalion (BN) Commander duties and responsibilities.
First of all, let’s take a minute to discuss an Army battalion.
An Army battalion normally consists of 400-800 Soldiers.
Depending on the mission and structure of a unit, sizes can vary.
Most Army battalions consist of 4-6 companies.
Each company has 80-150 Soldiers and is led by a Captain and First Sergeant.
The Company Commanders report directly to the Battalion Commander.
In the Army and Army National Guard, battalions are normally led by a senior Lieutenant Colonel.
Most Lieutenant Colonels have between 15 to 20 years of military officer experience.
The average age range is approximately 39-45 years old.
Prior to assuming Battalion Command, most Lieutenant Colonels previously served as Platoon Leaders, Battalion Staff Officers, Company Commanders, Battalion Operation Officers and Battalion Executive Officers.
In addition, they’ve complete their military education requirements such as the Officer Basic Course, Officer Advanced Course and the Command and General Staff Course (now known as ILE).
Some Battalion Commanders even completed the Army War College prior to assuming Battalion Command.
The Battalion Commander, also known as the BN Commander works with a Senior NCO, a Battalion Command Sergeant Major.
Also known as the Battalion CSM, the Battalion Command Sergeant Major serves as the senior enlisted adviser to the BN Commander.
He or she advises the Battalion Commander on enlisted matters and handles Soldier discipline, morale, health, welfare and individual training.
The Battalion Commander’s duties and responsibilities are enormous.
In reality, Battalion Commanders are responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen in their organizations.
The battalion commander must be mature, willing to accept responsibility, and able to effectively delegate authority and supervise subordinates. The battalion commander controls the staff through the battalion executive officer and the companies through the company commanders, while maintaining the final approval authority in the cadet chain of command. ~ Dallas ISD
Some of the most important Battalion Commander duties and responsibilities include:
- Prepare battalion for wartime mission
- Provide vision and guidance for organization
- Mentor, Coach and train subordinate Company Commanders and Staff Officers
- Maintain a high level of Operational Readiness within the Battalion
- Provide tough, realistic training
- Enforce Army Standards to entire organization
- Maintain good order and high morale in their organization
- Develop subordinates for positions of increased responsibility
- Work with the Brigade Commander to fulfill Brigade mission and goals
As you can see, this is no easy task; especially in the Army National Guard.
One of the biggest challenges for National Guard Battalion Commanders is lack of training time and spread out units.
For instance, most National Guard Battalions have companies in three or more different locations.
In order to conduct battalion-level training, the units must travel to a central location.
This takes time, money and effort.
Battalion commanders are arguably the most consequential leaders in the Army. Their experience, placement, and influence give them an out-sized ability to shape the future service of the soldiers they lead. They train and develop our young soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers and have more impact on their decisions to continue serving (or not) than any other leadership position. ~ War on The Rocks
In addition, National Guard Battalion Commanders have limited training time.
With just two to three days per month and two weeks per year, it’s hard to keep up with their Active Duty counterparts.
Despite these challenges, most Battalion Commanders are very resourceful and therefore do “whatever it takes” to help their organization succeed.
As a Battalion Commander, your role transforms.
You now become a leader of leaders.
As a Company Commander, you lead Soldiers.
As a Battalion Commander, you now lead leaders.
Simply put, you become a shepherd of shepherds instead of a shepherd of sheep.
Personally, I find that exciting.
In my opinion, the most important role of the BN Commander is to set the tone for the organization.
This equates to LEADERSHIP.
Battalion Commanders must be effective military leaders with vision.
They must share that vision with their subordinate leaders and staff, who in turn “buy into the vision” and “make it happen.”
Next, good Battalion Commanders set the standard and enforce the standard.
They enforce the Army standard equally to everyone in the organization.
This results in high morale and high military discipline.
All great Army units have both.
In conclusion, Battalion Commanders have a very important and demanding job.
Simply put, BN Commanders must ensure their organization is trained and prepared for combat.
They must be the tip-of-the-spear and lead from the front at all times.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them below.
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25 thoughts on “Army Battalion Commander Duties”
When you reach this level of leadership you are now removed from the day to day soldier. While it's important to remember your roots, you are now expected to train the leaders of the future and to have a vision for an entire battalion.
The important thing to remember is to stay on top of all your work, your training and your problem areas. Don't let a small problem with one program (like fitness) or one platoon become a festering issue that drags down your battalion and wastes your time. Have your people give you facts and you make the decisions, you no longer have to do all the work yourself.
Serving as a Battalion Commander sounds like an awesome job. Yes, they have tons of responsibilities, but they also have a big chance to make a huge difference on the Soldiers they lead. I’m sure every officer would love to be a Battalion Commander at some point in their career.
So true, Darrick. For most officers, it is the highlight of their career.
I can speak for myself and say that it would be a culminating event for me. However, then I think about being a brigade commander. It would be challenging and not as much time with the troops, but it would still be a huge honor.
What an awesome job. I think being a Battalion Commander would be a task that most civilians couldn’t handle. I don’t personally know any civilian with that much responsibility. Could you imagine leading 500 or more people?
It is a huge responsibility. For most Army Officers, this is the culmination of their career.
I’m hoping to get selected as a Battalion Commander within the next two years. I just got selected for LTC and am looking forward to having an Infantry Battalion. The job is tough, especially for M-Day and TPU troops who only drill a couple days a month. I know I’m up for the challenge and look forward to it!
Good luck, sir! I know it is a challenge being M Day, but that is the whole point of the ARNG. We can make the most out of it, and we can still excel even with those challenges. Best wishes!
The Battalion Commander job sounds like one of the toughest jobs in the Army. I couldn’t imagine being in charge of 500+ people.
I hope to be a Battalion Commander one day. I’m current a Captain on Battalion Staff waiting for a company to open up. The thing I like about the BN Command position is that you have a large staff of people to help you succeed.
It is cool to think about all the staff you have at Bn level, versus being at the company level. There are a lot of people invested in helping the BC succeed, and that is a rewarding thing.
This is a great description of what battalion commanders are responsible for. Thanks for sharing, Chuck.
I think the Battalion Commander’s most important duties are to set the vision and tone for the organization. Leadership always starts at the top. A good BC will instill a sense of pride in her followers and make them better.
That is so true, Tina.
I’m not sure how a Battalion Commander can get everything done. They have so many duties and responsibilities. It must be a very stressful job.
I agree with you that Battalion Commanders have a lot to do. It’s like any job though. You develop a battle rhythm, a way of doing things, and you find a way to get it done. It also helps that you have a staff, CSM and XO to help you out.
You have a huge staff that helps you, and hopefully your CSM and XO are worth their weight in gold. That will really be what helps you, your XO should be running the day to day operations.
I’ve always wanted to be a Battalion Commander. I truly believe it must be one of the most rewarding jobs in the Army. Leading 300 to 800 Soldiers, especially in combat, would be very fulfilling. I just never had an idea they were responsible for so much.
Battalion Commanders have tons of responsibilities, Gus. And I have to agree with you that it would be an awesome job!
My brother spent two years as a Battalion Commander of an Infantry Battalion. He said it was the toughest and most challenging assignment he ever had.
I believe it Byron! Tell him thanks for his service.
It’s a bit dizzying how much the Battalion Commander is responsible for. It’s great to see mentoring and working to develop subordinates on this list. Strong people below you make it so much easier to do your job and do it well. Being a solid leader to other leaders has the ability to make profound impact in any organization.
Great point, Leslie. Thanks for the comment.
As a journalist, I would often get confused with the different ranks in the military. I noticed sometimes rank changes, depending on the branch of military you are actually serving in. Thanks for the insightful post- you definitely made things A LOT more clear on my end!
Glad I could help, Michelle. Thanks for the comment.