The question “should you turn down command?” is an important question that very few people ever discuss. It’s like an omen. However, I want to share my personal thoughts on this question today, to help you determine what is best for you.
At some point in every Army officer’s career, they will want (or need) a command position. In most cases, I am referring to Company Command here, but this could also apply to senior command positions as well. Some officers get the command they want (for whatever reason) and other officers are given a command of a unit they have no desire to command.
When you are offered a command position, YOU have to make the decision whether it is something you want to do or not. You should never accept a command position to just “check the block.” Soldiers deserve capable leaders who WANT to lead them! Never forget that.
Additionally, it’s important to know that not all command positions are equal. Line units and MTOE units will always TRUMP staff units (HHC) and TDA units. That doesn’t mean the TDA or staff unit is bad; it’s just not respected as much as the other units by other Army leaders and promotion boards. For instance, you won’t meet many Colonels or Generals who commanded a HHC.
To put things in perspective, when someone tells me they commanded an HHC, I always wonder why they weren’t given a line unit. And I know other leaders feel the same way.
Please know that I’ve met plenty of successful HHC and TDA unit commanders. In most cases, they weren’t any less capable than their line unit commander peers, but they sure were viewed differently! Once again, there is an omen with certain command positions.
So, if you are faced with the decision as to whether or not you should turn down command, here are a few things you should consider beforehand.
1. If you turn down command, you might not get another chance at command
2. If you turn down command, you might get blackballed in your state and have to transfer to another state
3. If you turn down command, you might get something negative on your OER and not get promoted again
4. If you turn down command of a unit you don’t want, there’s a small chance that you STILL COULD get command of the unit (or type of unit) that you want
And if you take command of a unit you don’t want to command, here are some things to consider:
1. If you take command of a unit you don’t want command of, your heart won’t be in it and you probably won’t do as well as you would with a unit you wanted.
2. The unit might not be as bad as you think and the position could turn out to be a blessing in disguise
3. If you get a successful command of a unit you don’t want, there’s still a small chance you could get a second command of a unit that you do want
4. If you finish the command successfully, there’s a high chance you will get promoted
At the end of the day, it’s a personal decision. Make sure that you put some thought into it and be prepared to deal with the consequences (either good or bad).
While I was in, my view was that if I couldn’t get command of the unit I wanted I wouldn’t be a commander. And things worked out fine for me. I’m not saying that to brag or boast. I’m just sharing my personal experience.
Please leave a comment to this post. Try to answer any of the following questions:
- Is there an instance when someone should turn down command?
- What is the best way to do it?
Share any experience you might have concerning this subject. Thanks.