Army Standing Operating Procedures, also known as SOPs are vital for an Army unit’s success. As a Company Commander, your job is to ensure your unit has accurate, up-to-date, and effective Army Standing Operating Procedures for a variety of things to include unit maintenance, Supply Operations, and the Command Supply Discipline Program.
The purpose of an Army Standing Operating Procedure is to “establish procedures” for doing something. That way, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when given a task. When you have a “system” anyone can read your Army Standard Operating Procedure and know how your unit operates. When someone new arrives in your unit, they can read the unit’s Standing Operating Procedures and know how to do something.
According to Joint Publication (JP) 3-31, Joint Land Operations, “a standard operating procedure is a set of instructions applicable to those features of operations that lend themselves to a definite or standardized procedure without the loss of effectiveness.” Therefore, the purpose of an SOP is to standardize how a unit operates through the use of organizational best practices to preserve the efficacy of the organization. ~ U.S. Army
The downfall of most Army Standing Operating Procedures is that the SOP is out-of-date or impractical. Many units make an Army SOP just to check the block and comply with battalion directives. In my opinion, that’s the wrong reason to make an Army SOP. You should create Army SOPs so your unit can be effective and efficient.
In addition, many units have Army SOPs that just sit in a binder. Unfortunately, no one knows what the actual procedure is. More often than not, the procedure is unknown to everyone in the unit. Sure, your leaders know there is a SOP in effect, but they don’t know what it actually says. As the Company Commander, you can do better than that.
When you first take command, you should review your unit’s Army Standing Operating Procedures. Decide whether or not they make sense to you. If they don’t make sense to you, seek input from your key leaders and make any necessary revisions. Once you have a final product, add your signature block and put the Army SOPs in effect.
Next, share the SOPs with everyone in the company. Tell them why the Army Standing Operating Procedures exists. Discuss the purpose. Review the procedures. And, when you go to the field or complete a training exercise, follow your unit SOP.
If you find a better way to do something, update your Army Standing Operating Procedures. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. And minimum once a year, review the SOP to see if it is still the best way of doing things.
By following these simple steps, you can create Army SOPs that benefit your unit. Your unit will become more efficient and more effective too.
According to the U.S. Army, a Standard Operating Procedure, or SOP, is “a clearly written set of instructions for methods detailing the procedures for carrying out a routine or recurring task or study.” Army SOPs are templates used to define tasks ranging from inspections to cleaning duties.
In conclusion, and Army SOP is a standardized, documented way of doing something. Army SOPs are important because they standardize a specific task. That way Soldiers simply need to refer to the SOP to learn how to do something. As a Small Unit Leader you must ensure your unit has effective and up-to-date SOPs. More importantly, you must ensure that everyone in your unit understands the SOP and follows it.
How is your units SOPs? Do you understand what is in them? Have you read them? You can provide comments or questions below.