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.
In a line company, the Company Commander is the senior person. He 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 very frustrated. They wanted to be in charge, but they realized that their command time would be an uphill battle. And I’ve met other HHC Company Commanders who absolutely loved it. 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.
Sample HHC Company Commander Job Description
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.
Two Types of HHC Units
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve really 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).
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 looks better on paper (and for career advancement).
In most cases, these are the HHC Commanders in the combat arms battalions (infantry). These commanders often have a mortar section, medics, scouts, and/or mechanics, in addition to the Soldiers assigned to staff sections. These are normally reserved for previous Company Commanders who had a successful line Company Command. These Company Commands were much more prestigious BEFORE the invention of the Forward Support Companies. They were also much larger.
Tips for Success for HHC 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
- Work with your peers (line commanders) to help them succeed
- Work with the primary staff officers to get things done. Try to form strong relationships with them
- Don’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
- Understand that all of the Soldiers are under “your command authority” but they work for one of your peers
- Realize that you will clash with the staff officers from time to time
- Always have a game plan, but 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
- Pick your battles wisely! In most cases you will lose your battles with the primary staff officers
- Understand that you are a Company Commander, but that your roles and responsibilities are much different than a line Company Commander.
- Realize that your job is more “administrative based” than operational based
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!
Check out my Company Commander eBook!