In today’s post, I’d like to educate you about the Army Company XO duties and responsibilities. This advice is geared toward Army Company XOs but could also apply to other branches of the service as well.
While the Company Commander leads the Company, the XO runs the company along with the First Sergeant. Think of it this way, the Company Commander is future operations, while the First Sergeant and XO are current operations.
The commander strategizes, plans, and develops policy. They set the vision and course for the organization. The First Sergeant and Company XO work closely together with the staff and platoons to make that happen.
In most cases, the Company XO takes care of the behind-the-scenes things such as supply, maintenance, and unit administration. Those are the big three and should consume 80 to 90 percent of your time. The remaining 10-20 percent of your time is spent putting out fires and managing odd-ball tasks as they arise. Of course, the XO isn’t the one doing everything. Instead, they have a supervisory or management role overseeing those tasks.
The Company XO works closely with the Supply Sergeant, Training NCO, Motor Sergeant, and First Sergeant to handle the issues the Company Commander doesn’t need to manage or have time to deal with.
They also manage meetings, help with suspense’s from higher headquarters, and do whatever else needs to be done. The tasks aren’t pretty or glamorous. In most cases, they are boring and mundane. But they are important.
Company XO Duties & Responsibilities
In this section, I would like to share what I believe are the primary Army Company XO duties and responsibilities. I consider these the “big 3” tasks of the Company XO. This is based upon my own experience as a Company XO.
# 1: Administration
One of your primary responsibilities as the Company XO is to ensure the unit administration is squared away. This is the physical and digital “paperwork.” While administration is not sexy or intriguing, it is important!
The XO works closely with the Training NCO and Readiness NCO to ensure pay is processed on time, to ensure OERs and NCOERs are completed on time and to standard, and to make sure the unit’s suspense’s are met.
You will also oversee that the unit’s award’s program, ensure your Soldiers get submitted for the schools they need, and that all reports are completed on time.
You won’t be doing most of these things yourself, but you will work with the NCOs as needed. Your job is to identify priorities, make sure things gets done, and keep the Company Commander in the loop as needed.
# 2: Supply
Unit Supply is a critical activity in any unit. A good Supply Sergeant can make or break a unit. And a good Company XO, with a strong focus on supply, can significantly improve things.
A good Company XO works with the Supply Sergeant, the Property Book Officer, and the Company Commander to ensure the required equipment is on hand, safeguarded, maintained, and operational. They also ensure all inventories are done on time and to standard.
A good XO has an active role in the unit’s Command Supply Discipline Program. They ensure the unit is fiscally responsible, that a good Supply SOP is published and enforced, and that supply issues are dealt with quickly.
These countless hours slaving away in the supply room can pay huge dividends with the unit’s readiness.
# 3: Maintenance
Maintenance is a beast. Depending upon how much MTOE equipment your unit has assigned to it, this can be a full-time job in and of itself.
The Company XO will work with the Motor Sergeant and Maintenance Control Officer to ensure (1) maintenance is being conducted properly, (2) parts are being ordered and processed in a timely manner (3) pacing items are worked on first and kept in fully mission capable condition, (4) jobs are prioritized, and (5) the unit has trained and sufficient mechanics on hand to do the work. The XO will also keep a close eye on the 026 Report.
The Motor Sergeant will oversee most of these things, but the XO is involved as needed, mostly to answer questions, make decisions, and provide guidance.
Here are some additional duties you could have as a Company XO:
- Physical Security Officer
- Soldier Readiness
- Unit Movement Officer
- Supply Officer
- Maintenance Officer
- EO Officer
Something to Consider
While supply, administration, and maintenance are the three biggest and most important Army Company XO duties, it’s also important to remember that every command team is different. Your mission, type of unit you are in, and Company Commander will dictate what you do.
It would be in your best interest to sit down with your Company Commander & First Sergeant together to determine who is responsible for what. That way there are clear boundaries, and everyone knows what they are accountable for, and can stay in their lane.
Even if you think you know what your job entails, it’s a wise idea to sit down with your boss (the Company Commander) and find out what they see your role as.
Your job is to work behind-the-scenes with the First Sergeant and staff, so things are in order and ready for training. Your job is to make the Company Commander look good and help the unit succeed. You ensure the unit has the resources it needs to conduct its scheduled training.
You might not get much credit, or any of the glory, but you have an important job. Never forget that. Your time as an XO will help prepare you to be a successful Company Commander.
I should also chime in and mention that another important part of your job is to mentor and assist the Platoon Leaders. Don’t act like they work for you! They don’t! They work for the Company Commander, just like you do. Go out of your way to offer them your assistance, answer their questions, and help them succeed. When they succeed, you succeed, and the entire company benefits!
Here’s one last consideration. One day you will be a Company Commander yourself. Don’t forget that! What type of relationship would you want with your Company XO if you were the commander? What things would you want your XO to do if you were the commander? Answer those questions and then do your part!
Qualities of a Good Company XO
Here are a few qualities of a good Company XO:
Humility: As a Company XO, you must be humble. Swallow your pride and put the commander, mission, and unit before yourself. Remember, it’s not about you!
Hustle: This job requires a lot of work. Put in the extra hours. Show up early and stay late. Outwork everyone who works with/for you.
Good Organization Skills: Get organized. Have priorities and a detailed daily “to-do” list. Use tracking sheets to manage your suspense’s and workload.
Delegate & Empower: Learn to delegate tasks and empower your NCOs. They are the backbone of the Army and know what they are doing. Work closely with them, do not micro-manage them, and learn everything you can from them.
Things You Will Learn in the Job
The Company XO is a great developmental job. You will learn how to:
- Write OPORDs
- Review & Update SOPS
- Submit Soldiers for Awards
- Run a Meeting
- Maintenance Procedures
- Supply Procedures
- Convoy Management
- Write NCOERs & OERs
- Mission Planning
- Establish Policy & Procedures
- Risk Management
- Command Climate
- And hundreds of other things!
Best Tips for Success
Here are a few of my best success tips for Company XOs:
- Be humble.
- Don’t micro-manage your NCOs.
- Support and encourage the Platoon Leaders.
- Strive to make your Company Commander look good.
- Listen and learn from your NCOs, they know what they are doing.
- Counsel your subordinates in writing.
- Be a sponge and learn everything you can.
- Always, and I mean always, support your Company Commander and their intent!
The bottom line is that the Company XO has an important job of supporting the Company Commander and managing the supply, administration, and maintenance in the unit. They handle the day-to-day operations, put out fires, and run the company, so the commander can lead it! This enables the unit to successfully complete its mission. It’s a busy, challenging, and demanding job unlike few others.
What are your thoughts? Have you spent time as a Company XO before? If so, what were your primary duties and responsibilities while in the job? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. Thanks.