Before You Take Battalion Command: Four Things to Do

Today, I’d like to share four things you should do before you take Battalion Command.  These are some recommended tips from some former Battalion Commander friends of mine.  I hope you find the tips helpful.

# 1 Draft up a Game Plan of Your Goals and Vision for the Unit and Yourself

When you have been selected for command, you will probably have a few weeks to a month before you actually take command.  During that time, do yourself a favor and draft up a game-plan for your unit and yourself.  Make a list of goals you want to accomplish in command personally, and with your unit.  Draft up your vision.  Write down what your leadership style will be and how you see your unit.  This simple exercise can have a major impact during your command time.

# 2 Get as Much Information as You Can from the Outgoing Commander

The outgoing Battalion Commander is a valuable resource.  If you are fortunate enough to job shadow them for any period of time, consider yourself lucky.  Make a list of questions you have for them and ask them.  Don’t feel dumb by asking questions.  You want to form your own opinions, but you also want to leverage the outgoing commanders’ expertise and experience as well.  Try to form a good relationship with them and soak up as much wisdom as you can.  It would also be in your best interest to interview some other former Battalion Commanders to get any additional tips or insights about having a successful command.

# 3 Make Sure You and Spouse Are on the Same Sheet of Paper

If you are married, sit down with your spouse ahead of time so they understand the responsibility and amount of time commitment this duty position demands.  The last thing you want to do is surprise them and never be around.  Even as a ARNG or USAR Battalion Commander you will have a lot of time commitments outside of drill weekend. This includes seminars, site visits, mandatory meetings and briefings, surprise inspections and much more.

# 4 Get Mentally Prepared for the Assignment

This goes hand in hand with # 3.  You must mentally prepare yourself for the upcoming two years.  You have to realize you will work like a dog.  Get in shape.  Get your personal affairs in order.  And get your frame of mind right so you can be the leader that your Soldiers deserve.

Final Thoughts

In review, these are four things to do before you take Battalion Command.  All of these tips come from former Battalion Commanders.

If you have any questions or comments about this subject, feel free to contact us.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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3 thoughts on “Before You Take Battalion Command: Four Things to Do”

  1. Chuck,

    I like Tip #2. I always hate taking over another position and not being briefed. I, myself, keep a continuity book which I plan on giving the next guy who comes into my slot. Coming into the Army, that was my experience, and I thought everyone did that….then I learned that it wasn’t so… There is nothing like stepping into a position and having the tools you need right there…discussion about issues held up front…and a warm and fuzzy going into it. BTN Commander or Squad Leader, I think that keeping a small continuity book is priceless.

    1. Good point, Justin.

      Every Army leader should have their own continuity book so their replacement has a good starting point. It’s really easy to do and it’s time well spent. If you are a Corporal or above, make sure you start your own continuity book today, if you don’t already have one!


    2. Candace Ginestar

      I AGREE!!! Also, we always know ahead of time when change of command is. And, you probably know the person who is in the position ahead of you. If you don’t, just call them and set up a meeting. I would never turn down the opportunity to help someone following in my footsteps, but I am not always going to offer it up front.

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