Today’s debate question is “should Lieutenants be allowed to be Company Commanders?” My immediate answer to that question is a big NO. Before you attack me for what I think, please allow me to explain my viewpoint on the subject.
Through the years, I’ve met some great Lieutenants. Some of these superstars could do some amazing things, even be good Company Commanders. They were smart, decisive, technically and tactically proficient, and hungry for success. I admire that. In addition, I’ve met some not so smart Lieutenants that couldn’t tie their shoes if you asked them to. In every rank there are squared away and not so squared away people.
The reason I don’t believe Lieutenants should be allowed to serve as Company Commanders is because they do not have sufficient MILITARY EXPERIENCE to do the job right. Most LT’s have only served in one unit and have only had one or two different jobs in the Army. Most Lieutenants are really, really young and don’t have much life experience either.
Serving as a Company Commander with only one to three years in the Army under your belt is not a good thing for the Soldiers you would command. Even if you were enlisted before you became an officer, it’s not enough. I believe you should have at least five years experience as an Officer before you become a Company Commander. And by the time you reach five years of service as an Officer you should be a Captain with one or two years time in grade under your belt.
I think five years is the magic number because by that point you will have probably had three to seven different jobs in the Army. You’ll have some time at the unit level and have some staff time under your belt. You will have gone through some challenges and learned a lot about leadership (and about yourself). You’ll probably have a deployment under your belt, you’ll be wiser, and know more about your branch and career field. Simply put, you will be more prepared and more qualified to take command.
Serving as a Company Commander is a tough job. Anyone can do it, but few people can do it well. Think about it. Leading 100-200 people is a big responsibility. I don’t know of one private or publicly owned civilian company that would let someone in their early to mid 20’s be in charge of that many folks.
So if you are a Lieutenant, please don’t take this the wrong way. I’ve been a LT too. Get some experience under your belt. Learn what you can about your branch, career field, leadership style and the Army in general. That way, when you do get command as a mid to senior Captain you can do your job well!
What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you think Lieutenants should be allowed to be Company Commanders? Leave a comment and let us know.