HHC Company Commander Duties, Responsibilities and Job Description

This post will cover the HHC Company Commander duties, responsibilities and job description. 

If you are about to take command of a headquarters and headquarters company, I want to share some helpful information with you.  The role of the HHC Company Commander is much different than Company Commanders in a line company.

Unless you are assigned to an infantry battalion, your primary role as an HHC Company Commander will be more administrative based, whereas the line Company Commanders have more of an operational role.  This means that you will spend most of your time supporting the staff and battalion (or brigade, division, etc).  In essence, that is your mission.  While this isn’t a bad thing, it can be extremely challenging.

hhc company commander duties

In a line company, the Company Commander is the senior person. She is a big fish in a small pond.  However, in a HHC Company the Company Commander might have two to four people who outrank him, plus another 5-10 Captains.

And if you command a HHC at the Brigade or Division level, you might have 20 to 100+ people that outrank you (in your own company!).  While you are still in charge of your company, you have to be careful with your approach and leadership style (I’ll share some tips later on).

Most HHC Company Commanders I’ve ever met were extremely frustrated and unhappy with their limited power.  They wanted to be in charge, but they realized that their command time would be an uphill battle.

On the other hand, I’ve met a select few HHC Company Commanders who absolutely loved their job, despite the challenges.  It boils down to your attitude, your personality and your willingness to be humble.  Landing the job as the HHC Company Commander could be a blessing or a curse.  You choose!

Sample HHC Company Commander Job Descriptions

Serves as Company Commander of a HHC Company in a Mechanized Infantry Battalion. Overall responsible for the health, welfare, training and morale of 180 Soldiers.  Plans, resources, and assesses collective training for unit. Maintains accountability and operational readiness for 120 different types of MTOE property valued at $6 million.  Manages an annual training budget valued at $1.2 million.

Serves as Company Commander of a HHC in a Light Infantry Brigade.  Responsible for the health, welfare, training and morale of 228 soldiers.  Personally supervises 7 soldiers. Plans, resources, and assesses collective training for the unit.  Handles mission planning, risk assessment and operational leadership of the company.  Primary hand receipt holder for 452 pieces of MTOE equipment valued at $27 million.

Two Types of HHC Units

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve noticed two different types of headquarters and headquarters companies during my 15 years in the military.  They are administrative and operational.  I will explain more below (these are not doctrinal terms).

Administrative

These are often the HHC and HHD commanders assigned to battalions outside of the combat arms world, or HHC companies assigned to echelons at the brigade level and higher.  In most cases, these companies have more of an administrative role than an operational role.  These units are comprised of the staff sections for their higher unit along with a few other Soldiers.  In most cases, these commands are considered “inferior” to that of a line company in the same unit.  I’m not saying the commander isn’t as good of a leader as a line Company Commander, I just believe that commanding a line company is 100x better on paper (and for career advancement).

Operational

In most cases, these are the HHC Commanders in the combat arms battalions (infantry or armor).  These commanders often have a mortar section, medics, scouts, and/or mechanics, in addition to the Soldiers assigned to the staff sections.  These are normally reserved for previous Company Commanders who already completed a successful line Company Command.   These commands were much more prestigious BEFORE the invention of the Forward Support Companies.  They were also much larger.

Tips for Success for HHC Company Commanders

If you are in command or about to take command of a HHC, I can share a few tips for success that will make your job easier.

Don’t consider yourself inferior to your line Company Commanders.  What you do with your command is totally in your hands.  Even if you are unhappy with the command you were chosen for, make the most of it.  It might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Work with your peers (line commanders) to help them succeed.  Be a team player with your peers.  Form friendships with them and do what you can to help them succeed in their job.  The Army is a team sport.

Work with the primary staff officers to get things done.  Try to form strong relationships with them.  Be supportive and encouraging and be a team player.  Realize that most of them will outrank you and will give you orders from time to time. That’s just the way it goes.

company commander training courseDon’t be a dictator.  While you might be the commander, there are many people at your same rank (and higher rank) in your own company that will ignore you or put you in check.  Be confident, firm and fair, but realize you really aren’t the one in charge.

Understand that all of the Soldiers are under “your command authority” but they work for one of your peers. While you might have the UCMJ authority over your subordinates, it makes sense to work with your officer counterparts in staff positions, when there are certain soldier issues.

Realize that you will clash with the staff officers from time to time.  Folks, this just happens.  Stay calm, cool and collected and pick your battles wisely.

Always have a game plan, but be flexible.  As the HHC Company Commander, things will rarely go as planned. There are too many competing forces.  Learn how to go with the flow and be flexible.

Understand that your senior commander (Battalion or Brigade Commander) and his/her staff members are more concerned about their mission than they are about your company.  This one might be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s the truth.

Pick your battles wisely!  In most cases you will lose your battles with the primary staff officers, especially if they outrank you.  Enough said.  Know when to hold them and when to fold them.

Realize that your job is more “administrative based” than operational based.  You will spend more time pushing paper than your line company commanders.  Get good at it!  When you do have an operation role, go the extra mile so you can stand out.

Suggest Reading

  1. Company Commander Training Course
  2. Company Commander eBook
  3. Small Unit Leadership

Final Thoughts

In summary, the HHC Company Commander has an important, but challenging job.  It takes a unique set of skills, a good attitude, and lots of flexibility to succeed as a HHC Company Commander.  It definitely isn’t for everyone.  It will be one of those jobs in your career that you either love or hate!

What do you think about the HHC Company Commander duties, responsibilities and job description?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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31 thoughts on “HHC Company Commander Duties, Responsibilities and Job Description”

  1. I’m currently a HHC Commander for a MI Brigade recently created. Initially I wanted a line unit but was chosen to serve in my current position. I’ve never had a company command in all of my time in my current rank as Captain. I’m a senior Captain looking to become a Major. My last position was a Battalion S-3 and an Intelligence Production Manager before the S-3 assignment. I’ve thought on why the brigade board chose me to be a HHC Commander. The only thing I could surmise was my experience as a S-3 and Production Manager doing strategic intelligence. I’m taking what I learned in those positions and applying to my current role.

    I’m saying all this because depending on your experience level walking in may determine the attitude of the unit command toward your subordinate command. So far it’s been just a little challenging but not because of collisions with brigade staff but because it’s a new unit recently standing up for business.

    I think it’s important to have your BDE or BN Commander talk to you one on one about the importance of green tab to green tab rating. This puts onus on the commander to support you and you as the subordinate commander to think more out of the box and execute your responsibilities effectively because the eyes are even more on you as a HHD or HHC commander. I’ve received support from BDE S-3, DCO (LTCs). It can work. But I think they have to let you let it work and have you take responsibility for your command, verbally and through actions.

  2. I am the current XO of a Infantry Brigade HHC (due to some fancy MTOE work by our S1). I have been with this Brigade since I commissioned in 2012 (I was the M-Day Assistant S-1 for 2 years). I have seen my company go through a lot of changes, to include 4 Company Commanders and 3 Brigade XOs. The relationship between these two leaders has had the greatest effect on the challenges that the company command group has faced, from my point of view. I have seen and experienced plenty of staff bullies, however, when we have the support of the Brigade XO, we are able to finally get the O4s and O3s to think about the company’s needs and start asking “What do you need from us?”. Thankfully, most of my last year as Company XO has been while we have had a really supportive Brigade XO. I think that it is in the Company Command Groups best interest to seek out and build this type of relationship with the Brigade XO when the Brigade XO does not seek it out of you.

    1. It can be tough being a Captain working with the BDE XO. You have to pick your battles and be a professional. You also have to take off your Company Commander cap at some point and think of things from the BDE XO’s perspective. That can make a big difference. It definitely isn’t easy. Thanks for your service. Good luck!

  3. I am currently a HHC commander of a CSSB Battalion and although there are challenges I have a very supportive staff. The BC allows me to to make the decisions that a HHC commander needs to make in order to meet the intent of the BC and the BDE commander. The staff really isn’t that experienced and I have 19 years in so they listen to what I have to say. I try to get them to do what a staff is supposed to do and not totally rely on the HHC command team. So far I can say it has been a interesting and rewarding experience, but I also want to lead a line unit and get both command experiences.

    1. That’s great LT. Having 19 years of experience is a big benefit, especially with maturity and experience. I’m glad you have a great relationship with your Battalion. It makes things a lot easier and much more enjoyable. Thanks for your service.

  4. I just took command of an Regional Support Group HHD. I had a previous command as an OSUT company commander. I’m an AG officer, so command experience is quite rare, and there are no HR companies or anything else like that around my area. We have a really healthy command relationship, and, unlike what some of the posers here have indicated, the COL allows me to run the company vis-a-vis training, PT, etc. The staff is responsive to the tune of in our last staff meeting, the OPS OIC said, “You’re the commander. What do you think?”

    Pretty cool so far!

  5. I am currently a Battery Commander for a Field Artillery Battalion HHB in Pennsylvania. This article is very accurate in that it can be very frustrating to be an HH commander. This was the case for me until I realized a very valuable position to hold. The success of the HH Commander is the ability to influence and motivate those that you have no control over to accomplish what you need to get done.

    The other key point to make is that the relationship you have with your Battalion XO is paramount. If you and your XO have a good working relationship HH command begins to become easier, not easy, but easier.

    If you can work with your XO, I strongly recommend getting one month a quarter to be for Battery/Company/Troop/Det requirements. The other two months a quarter will be to support the Battalion 100%. If you are able to coordinate that as well, HH Command becomes a lot of fun.

    I for one can say this is the best job I have ever had in the Army. I would not turn it down for anything.

  6. I’ve been the HHD Commander for a little over four months now and I can tell you that it is frustrating indeed. I was ignorant to think that I was going to be in charge, but I’m more like the battalion S-1 OIC. I didn’t take command to do non-stop paperwork. I want to lead troops. Now I know why the commander I took over for gladly handed the reins to me after only serving one year in the position. Had I known what was to come, I probably would’ve reconsidered taking up command of HHD, especially now finding out that I’m rated by the battalion XO and not by the battalion CO!

    1. Why you are rated by the Battalion XO is beyond me. Commanders rate commanders!

      I hope you survive the experience and learn from it.

      Do what you can to get a line company after this command. That is where it is at!

      1. I agree. Commanders should rate subordinate commanders, but my BC told me HHD/C commanders are “traditionally” rated by the Bn XO. Who am I to argue against “tradition”? But my BC knows I’m not pleased with the current rating scheme. As a Reservist, I put in way too many hours into Army work. I understand that as a commander that I would have to, but 10 to 20 hours per week on top of my full-time civilian job is getting a little ridiculous. And to top it off, I get no compensation for my “off-duty” time either. Maybe I’ll put in one year in command myself, like my predecessor.

        1. This is a very common trend in the ARNG and USAR and one of the primary reasons I resigned. I couldn’t justify working 10, 20 or 30 hours PER WEEK outside of drill weekend and not getting paid for it. Some people would say that I am selfish for thinking that way, but I don’t care. Time is money and that time could have been spent with my family and business. I understand there are some things to do outside of drill weekend, but it shouldn’t be for free.

          As far as your rating scheme, it is what it is. I wouldn’t be happy with it, but it sounds like there isn’t too much you can do about it.

          Do your time honorably. Give your command your best. And when a year is up move on to another command or duty position.

          1. It’s a common misconception you can’t be paid for the additional hours. If you document it you can be paid for it. My last BC was meticulous on this. The easiest way is build an excel worksheet to function basically as a time card and put down what activities your were doing. Everytime you acrue more that 4 hours it can be documented on a DA 1380. You don’t have to use UTA’s, there are still RMAs and ADAs to use (based on your budget). all the online “mandatory training” 9 times out of 10 can be paid with RMA’s. If you run out then submit the 1380 to HRC for retirement points (1 per 4 hour block). Its not the best form of payment but it’s at least something. Depending on how flexible your command is increase your AT days to 29 every year and use them. You can have 60 ADT days per year. These help out if you want to use your UTAs in another capacity outside of BAW, (physical security inspection, civilian counseling, the countless teleconferences you have to be on, etc.).

            1. This is really useful information to have! I am the XO of an HHC BDE and try to work a few hours a couple of nights a week to keep up. I have no knowledge about maintenance and am trying to learn as much as I can. I only have 3 Soldiers on the company FTS, but I have a few Soldiers who have lots of experience with maintenance. I don’t want to ask for assistance of my Soldiers while they are busy with their families and full time jobs. I know my unit has lots of unused RMA money hanging around and if I can offer some of my Soldiers some cash for their time it would be a heck of a lot better than drowning in the water trying to do it all myself.

  7. My brother spent two years a HHC commander and absolutely hated it. He told me that the staff and Battalion Commander never listened to him. He compared the job to herding cats. I think he would have been much happier with a regular unit where he was the highest ranking person and was the one really in charge.

    1. I’m sorry he had a bad experience. I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed a HHC Command. Being in charge of a company where there are a bunch of people who outrank you is not very appealing to me personally. I hope your brother gets a second command in a line unit. Please tell him thanks for his service.

  8. Command is command as I see it. While a line unit might be “ideal” any command is better than no command. And the person makes the job. The job doesn’t make the person.

  9. I think every job in the Army is important, even if it isn’t as “glamorous or sexy” as other jobs. Being an HHC Commander might not be for everyone, but I think the experience would make you a better officer.

  10. As an HHC Commander whose time is almost up, i can tell you the article is spot on. An HHC command is a good “command experience” if you know you want to stay on staff side of the Army for most (if not all) your career (i.e. Functional Areas). If you’re looking for BN command, in my honest opinion, i think it is counter productive, as you’ll be measured against line company commanders who have a lot more control of what goes on in their unit, and as a future BN CDR, it would benefit you to know just what your commander are going through from personal experience, anyway. As cadets, we’ve been taught that “Command is command is command”, but i don’t think that is good way to perceive an HHC. It’s not something you’ll necessarily regret, but if you want to be “Alpha Male” HHC is not the unit for that.

    1. You make some great points, Jairo.

      I agree with you that command is NOT command. All commands are different. Boards do not look at all command time evenly. A line unit will always trump a HHC, whether people want to admit it or not.

      Everyone knows the line commanders run the show in their unit, but the HHC Commander doesn’t have the same luxury. When you have several people in your company who outrank you, it makes it very challenging. It’s almost like herding cats.

      Speaking from personal experience, I never would have commanded anything other than a line company. Some people say never turn down command, or take what you are given, but I strongly disagree. If you know what you want, go get it. But I was the Alpha Male you describe. Fortunately, it worked out well for me.

      I also know that the HHC command in infantry battalions is WAY better than most other HHC commands. For example, an HHD command in the logistics or combat service support world isn’t all that desirable. But even still, I wouldn’t want a HHC Command in an infantry battalion either. There’s just too many challenges that you have little control over.

      Congrats on finishing your command successfully. And thanks for your service.
      Chuck

  11. I’ve been in command of an HHT for nearly 2 years. This article is very accurate. Boy, did I wish I read it 2 years ago. I definitely fall into the category of frustrated commanders, in large part due to my misconceptions and expectations going into the job after a very rewarding line company command. In my experience, the commander and 1SG are in charge of no one and held responsible for everything. Inspections do not properly hold the FSC accountable for things the HHC/B/T use to do and you’ll fail inspection after inspection because of it you don’t have a good FSC. Play the politics and keep expectations realistic is all I can say. I expect to be overridden on almost every command decision that involves or affects the staff, but they usually take the idea into consideration and come up with a BN level approach to making it happen. So the concern is still appreciated and addressed, but they implement it their own way.

    1. Sorry to hear that Patrick. I know it can be frustrating, but hang in there. Your command time is almost up and the experience you got will make you a much better Field Grade Officer. Thanks for your service.
      Chuck

  12. Based off this article, serving as an HHC Company Commander doesn’t sound anywhere near as good as commanding a line unit! Of course, that’s just my two cents. I’ve never been in the military, but my uncle is a retired Lieutenant Colonel. He served as a Company Commander of an infantry company during the Vietnam War. His unit was a line unit, not an HHC. He saw lots of action and has plenty of great war stories to share with the rest of us.

    1. I agree with you Merle. HHC commands are okay, but I always tell people to try and get a line unit instead, especially if you want to be a senior officer one day.

      You won’t meet many Colonels or Generals who commanded HHC companies.

      Chuck

  13. This was an interesting and useful read for me, even as a 1SG. Many of the same conditions apply to a battalion/squadron or brigade HHC first sergeant, who will have the battalion or brigade CSM as part of his HHC. In my experience the battalion HHC 1SG is usually the senior first sergeant in the unit, as HHC is considered a more challenging assignment than a line company. At least in our state, first sergeant of the brigade HHC is usually prelude to nomination for CSM. I’ve spent my entire career in line units, for which I’m grateful, but I know my turn in HHC is probably coming, especially now that I’m the senior 1SG in my squadron, and the only other 11Z slot in the entire unit is the HHT first sergeant….

    1. In combat arms battalions the HHC 1SG and Commander job are very prestigious jobs, especially considering the size of the HHC Company (150+ Soldiers), but in many other battalions it is not a very desirable job. As a logisitics officer, I would never command a HHC. That’s just my personal decision.

      Chuck Holmes

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