How Long Should Army Reserve and National Guard Company Commanders Stay in Command?

This is a question that someone asked me the other day and I figured it would be a good blog post.  How long should Army Reserve and National Guard Company Commanders stay in command?

I’m not sure if there is a regulation that addresses this issue, but I can speak from personal experience and tell you what I recommend.

The bare bones minimum you want to do in Company Command is 12 months.  You should strive for more than this, but don’t do less than a year in Company Command of the same unit.

I think a good time to strive for is 18 to 24 months in Company Command.  18 months will give you enough experience in the job to learn a lot, to perform at a high level, and not get burnt out.  18 months feels like the perfect amount to me and up to 24 months is good.

If you do more than 24 months in Company Command, I think it’s bad.  Here’s why.  First of all, you are holding someone else up from getting the opportunity to command.  There are typically lots of officers waiting to take the guidon, so the longer you stay in command the fewer chances other officers get to take command.

More importantly, you won’t be a Captain forever.  As a Captain, you want a variety of experiences, including Company Command. You want some staff time, too, so it’s important to manage your career wisely and know when to move on.

The final thing with staying in command too long is that you get burnt out and lose your motivation.  Company Command is a very demanding job.  You can only go full speed so long before you start to lose your effectiveness and motivation.  Every individual has a different threshold, but it’s important to know yours (I hit mine at 18 to 20 months).

I hope my explanation answered the question about how long to stay in Company Command in the Army Reserves or Army National Guard.  I’d love to hear what you think.  Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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6 thoughts on “How Long Should Army Reserve and National Guard Company Commanders Stay in Command?”

  1. Personally, I believe the two year limit is a good figure to allow others to get in and to keep someone from burnout, but as with Josue’s case, I do think that a deployment may be a reason to make an exception. This not so much for the Commander, but for their soldiers. They are used to certain guidelines and who better to lead them in a wartime situation than someone who has been with them for two + years?

      1. Candace Ginestar

        I agree that a case by case basis should be used. My husband’s last commander was only there for a year, but he turned the troop around and got them ready for deployment. Since he is AGR, he moved on sooner rather than later, especially as he is up for promotion.

  2. Josue Daniel Nieves Santiago

    My brigade commander put a limit of two years in command, three years with a written request and with approval. I trained "my unit" for two years, getting it ready for deployment, only to be "left behind" as that deployment would have put me at the 3 1/2 years in command. I personally did not care about how it may looked on my OER, but again, the boss did not think the same way. I think it was a disservice to the Soldiers, especially in a case like mine, where I had already occupied other positions, and was not up for promotion in four more years.
    But like you said, each officer must know their threshold.

    1. Sometimes the rules work in our favor and sometimes they don’t. I’ve met Company Commanders that spent 5+ years in command of the same unit. And I’ve met other Captains that had THREE different Company Commands. I think those cases are a bit excessive, but to each their own. I loved leading troops. It was the best job I ever had. But I knew that if I wanted to excel and advance my career I would need a variety of different jobs and experiences. Plus, in some cases there are plenty of folks waiting for a command to open up. It’s really a double edged sword at times.

      1. Candace Ginestar

        I have only known ones who had 2 commands back to back, but usually it was for a specific reason. I think it’s okay, it just depends on who it is, and what the purpose is. I would love to stay in command for a long time, but that just isn’t smart.

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