Army Ground Support Equipment (GSE) Platoon Leader: My Story

Today, I want to talk about my experience as a Ground Support Equipment (GSE) Platoon Leader.  I’ll do this in interview style, since I think that will be the most beneficial thing for you.  Please know that I served as a GSE Platoon Leader as my second duty assignment as an Officer, more than 10 years ago.  Let’s get started.

What Is The Official Job Title?

Army Ground Support Equipment Platoon Leader for a Maintenance Company.

What is the Ground Support Equipment Platoon leader Job Description?

Served as the Ground Support Equipment (GSE) Platoon Leader in a Direct Support (DS) Maintenance Company assigned to a Forward Support Battalion part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized).  Responsible for providing DS repair for Land Combat Systems, Electronic Maintenance Systems and Engineer Support Systems.  Responsible for the health, welfare, morale and training for 60 Soldiers.  Also responsible for MTOE equipment valued in excess of $6 million.  Additional duty areas are AER Officer and Supply Officer.

***** This was off my OER

What Type of Unit Were You In?

Our company was a Maintenance Company in the 64th Forward Support Battalion, part of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.  Our Brigade is a Mechanized Infantry Brigade with one battalion of M1 Tanks and two battalions of M2 Bradley’s.

What Are Your Primary Duties and Responsibilities of the Ground Support Equipment Platoon Leader?

  • Plan, coordinate, execute and evaluate collective training
  • Maintain equipment accountability and readiness
  • Prepare Soldiers for combat
  • Maintain the brigade’s missile systems, electronic systems and generators/refrigeration systems
  • Supervise 60 Soldiers
  • Establish maintenance priorities for shops
  • Develop subordinate leaders

What Did You Like Most About Your Job?

My platoon was a a big platoon with many moving pieces.  We had 60 Soldiers and three different shops.  I really enjoyed working closely with my Platoon Sergeant (SFC Luna) and Warrant Officer (CW2 Venezuela).  I also had great NCOs running each shop.  Morale was high and Soldier proficiency was outstanding.  I also liked that I had a direct impact in helping the brigade maintain a high level of readiness.

What Did You Dislike About Your Job?

At the time, I was a bit frustrated that I was given a second Platoon Leader position, rather than an XO or Staff Officer position.  I had already commanded a different platoon before this one.  However, this experience turned out to be a blessing in disguise, later on down the road.  I always tell young Officers now to be a Platoon Leader as long as you can!

What Were Your Biggest Accomplishments in the Job?

  • Served as Supply and Services Officer during Division Capstone Exercise at Fort Hood
  • Served as Observer Controller during NTC Exercise
  • Helped reduce maintenance backlog by 50%
  • Facilitated the turn-in of more than $98,000 in excess property
  • Maintained platoon OR rate of 96%

*** The above achievements were off my OER

What I am most proud of is that I really “grew up” and matured in this duty position.  It’s where I established myself as an effective Army Officer and leader.

What Are the Best Tips You Can Share for Someone About to Be a Ground Support Equipment Platoon Leader?

  • Familiarize yourself with each section within your platoon.  Spend time learning what they do, what they are good at and what they need help with.
  • Leverage your Warrant Officer and NCOs.  There’s no need to micro-manage or try to do their jobs for them.  Establish priorities and then let them run with it.  If they need help, help.  Otherwise, stay out of their way, but provide encouragement and motivation.
  • Establish maintenance priorities with your Warrant Officer and Shop Officer.  Chances are, you will have lots of different maintenance jobs going on at once.  It’s your job to get with the Shop Officer and prioritize what must be done first.
  • Make sure your Soldiers have the required parts and tools.  Get with your NCOs to make sure that you have all the authorized equipment on hand and that it is serviceable.  It’s hard for your Soldiers to fix things if they don’t have the required tools or parts.
  • Don’t forget to have fun.  When possible, try to make work fun for your Soldiers and leaders.  They have an important job and take it seriously, but make sure you brighten up their day when you can.

What Jobs Do You Recommend After the Ground Support Equipment Platoon Leader Job?

I would recommend being a Shop Officer (first choice), a Company XO (2nd choice) or a primary Battalion Staff Officer (3rd choice).

Soldier Biography

Charles Holmes is a former Army Major.  He spent 12 months as a Ground Support Equipment Platoon Leader with the 64th FSB at Fort Carson, Colorado from 2001 to 2002.  He graduated from SUNY Potsdam and was commissioned as a 2LT in the Quartermaster Corps in 2000.  He is now a civilian.

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chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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