Problems with the AGR Staff at the Unit Level

Today, I want to share a problem that one of my website visitors sent in about an issue he is having with his AGR Staff (Readiness NCO and Supply Sergeant).  He is the Company Commander.  This is what he writes:

“I’m writing to you with a question you may be able to help me and a few other officers with. What jurisdiction do Part time Commanders and Officers have to issue orders to AGR staff on non-drill weekends?

An example is sometimes I’ll call to the unit during the week, and ask the Supply Sergeant to get something done before drill and about 50% of the time it does not get done before we get there. He tells me and Top that his Full Time Command had him do something that takes priority over my demands. I have noticed that my Readiness NCO tends to do that at times as well. I can’t find any regulation on anything with this regard.

Me, my Platoon Leaders and 1SG are starting to see a trend of the Full Time not working with us during the week since we are not on orders. When it comes to Drill Weekends, we get the job done. But sometimes we are lacking things and I am a proponent of having things done before we get there.

The AGR personnel seem to be no help – my Battalion Commander tells me I have to work out the relation and should not be ordering AGR during non-IDT days. Please don’t think I want to be barking orders at them. But sometimes we need things done such as calling a caterer for family day or sending me and Top updates what is going on during the week so we don’t get blind-sided by something.

Where can we turn for information with this regard between AGR Command and M-Day? Top shared with me, he feels uncomfortable because he does not know the actual regulations pertaining to this and does not have the time to research it. Honestly, I feel the same way.  Thanks for your help.” ~ Concerned Company Commander (name withheld for privacy)

***** Response

Here is how I feel about the situation and what I recommend that you do.

The AGR Staff at the unit level works for the Company Commander and 1SG, not the Battalion AGR Staff.  Their job is to support the Company Commander, 1SG and Soldiers in the unit.  They work WITH the AGR Staff at the Battalion level, but they should report to the 1SG and Company Commander.  You are their Commander and 1SG.  That relationship should always be the # 1 priority.

The rating scheme should reflect that!  The 1SG should rate the Readiness NCO and the Readiness NCO should rate the Supply Sergeant and/or Training NCO in the unit.  Another alternative is to have your Company XO rate the Readiness NCO.  In either case, the Company Commander should be the Senior Rater.  If the rating scheme has the AGR working/reporting to the Battalion AGR it needs to be fixed immediately.  Otherwise, you will keep having problems.

Once that is done, the AGR staff needs to be counseled in writing of what the expectations are.  This includes a good initial counseling and follow-up (quarterly counseling).  Problems and performance should be documented and addressed immediately when issues arise.

When it comes to issuing orders, there should never be a problem.  You are the superior officer and Company Commander.  You have command authority over the unit and any order you give (assuming it is lawful and ethical) must be obeyed.  If they disobey your orders I would pursue UCMJ and have them demoted, fired, or FLAGGED.  There is no room in any unit for Soldiers who can’t follow orders (whether AGR or not).

That is what I would do and that is what I would recommend you do. This is actually a common problem in the ARNG and USAR and the COA I recommended is the only way to fix it (that I know of).

What are your thoughts?  Maybe some folks who read this post can chime in here and share some of their insights.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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12 thoughts on “Problems with the AGR Staff at the Unit Level”

  1. This is great info and sounds like common sense, however, AR 135–18 4–5 requires AGR’s to be rated IAW
    AR 623–205, which says in 2-8: “The rater is the person in the rating chain who—(1) Is most familiar with the day-to-day performance of the rated NCO…” Under that directive, it would seem only FTS could possibly rate FTS, not somebody who is only there (or should only be involved) 2 days a month, in general – commander or not.

    1. Granted this comment was published 4 years ago. The army has updated a lot since then to include the regulation which is now AR 623-3. AR 623-2(b)(4) states rating chains should be as close to the CoC without pooling, who has knowledge of performance and potential. As a CO (even part-time), I would by all accounts be expected to have the knowledge and level of supervision. AR 623-3(2-2a) and (2-3a) state that CO will establish their own rating chain approved at the next higher CO (in the case of Co level that would be BN). AR 623-3(2-5) outlines that the requirement of a rater is merely to be an immediate supervisor responsible for directing and rating performance. I would argue that CO’s and possibly the XO’s responsibility is exactly that, to supervise his/her Co’s shop and to rate their performance

  2. It seems to me that there is a system that was not put in check sometime ago. I agree with Chuck. As Company Commander, you need to put your foot down hard and stop this issue in its tracks now. If it keeps happening, the AGR has room to claim that is how it has always been. There is good reason there is a chain of command. The Company Commander is the top of that chain in the aspect we are discussing here. There is no debate, I believe every leader in the Army would totally agree with Chuck’s assessment and the proper way to solve it.

    1. These issues with the AGR Force are few and far between. Most AGR folks are pretty darn awesome. But when there is a problem it needs to be dealt with immediately.

  3. Candace Ginestar

    Chuck, how do you change the rating schemes? It seems like the AGRs always get rated by each other, and I am not sure how that would get changed, or at least give one of us a part in it.

    1. As a Commander you pick the rating scheme. That’s what I did as a Company Commander. I made sure all my AGRs were rated by my M-Day leaders. It was actually quite easy to do. I just did a Memorandum for Record and it was done.

      1. I did the same thing. In fact, I told my Commander ahead of time of what I was going to do. As long as is not some type of revengeful action you are taking your BC should back you up as mine did. A simple memorandum for Record is all you need. As Chuck said, it is your Company.

  4. This is an interesting Topic people don’t seem to talk about. I want to say I have somewhat experienced this issue over the years and left unsure how to respond when it does happen. Our AGR personnel are pretty good. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been through a turnover of AGR staff. Many times issues have occurred that I am oblivious to. The responses I usually get are, ” I reported it to my full time chain of command.”

    I’m not sure who the full time actual chain of command is. If the AGR do not fall under a full time command or rating scheme, who do they report to when their Command team is off-duty? I assume it it the highest ranking AGR person in the Company. I think that people really don’t know. For example, our Company Readiness NCO may call up to higher HQ and request something and get chewed out by a higher ranking NCO and assume she is under that authority. But there needs to be a balance as to who the actual chain of command is and who is their to support a Company who is not in the chain of Command.

    Two weeks ago, our First Sergeant told our AGR staff he needed a task done and gave them a deadline and was going to require working on a Saturday. Apparently, after the fact, the AGR’s did not get it done because they said their full time chain did not authorize it. Top called had them put the phone on speaker and let them have it. Top counseled the readiness NCO for not meeting his demands and told them he has a mission to accomplish. Whether part time or full time. Next time they will be staying up all night when he calls to the Unit and orders something. The only Question I would have is, what regulations would all this confusion be found in?

    1. Robert,

      I don’t know what regulations pertain to this issue, and to be quite frank, I don’t think it really matters.

      At the company level, the AGR staff works for the Company Commander and First Sergeant, period. The Readiness NCO is normally rated by the 1SG or XO and senior rated by the Company Commander. The Readiness NCO typically rates the Supply Sergeant and Training/Admin NCO and they are both senior rated by either the 1SG or XO. The Supply Sergeant and Training/Admin NCO typically take their orders from the Readiness NCO.

      It is also normal for the AGR staff to have an informal chain of command, typically the higher ranking AGR Staff at the battalion, or at the armory. They will take guidance from them throughout the week and execute any given tasks they are given, but they still ULTIMATELY answer to the First Sergeant and Company Commander.

      In essence, the AGR personnel really have two chains of command: one formal and one informal.

      As a former CO, if my AGR Staff would have EVER told me they didn’t work for me or answer to me, I would have relieved them on the spot! The purpose of the AGR Staff is to support the unit and the personnel in the unit who only drill one weekend a month. Therefore, they work for that unit, and the unit’s leadership team.

      As a CO, I had two Battalion Commanders I answered to. One was my rater and one was not. But I had to take orders and follow both. It can be difficult, but our job as Soldiers is to follow orders of our superiors, whether they are our rater, intermediate rater, senior rater, reviewer or even someone not in our chain of command.

      I hope that helps.

      1. Just thought id drop in a bit more here…
        Im in an HHC in a Bn (currently). I have an E-5 Training NCO and a E-7 AGR S-4 NCO (at Bn level same duty location) and a UA. The Training NCO works for the CO and 1SG. I work for the Commander.
        However, the new AGR S-4 NCO wants to rate me or have the SSA rate me per AR 623-3….um no.
        So with that being said, I ask this:
        AR 735-5 Sec II Ch 2-8(4) specifically states “(4) Custodial responsibility…. The obligation of an individual… Custodial responsibility results from assignment as a supply sergeant, supply custodian,
        supply clerk, or warehouse person, and is rated by, and answerable directly to, the accountable officer or the individual
        having direct responsibility for the property….”
        By Regulatory guidance the Commander WILL (not should, or maybe, or oversee…) be the Rater of at minimum the Supply SGT because it says (the position) “IS RATED BY, AND ANSWERABLE DIRECTLY TO,…) So, the question then becomes…is there a Regulation that lists Regulations that supercede other regulations? The S-4 is saying AR 623-3 trumps AR 735-5 etc… Ive never heard of a regulation trumping another. However, if a reg is black and white…it is what it is. AR 623-3 is a guide to… AR 735-5 says this is what you WILL do… Isnt that correct?

  5. I’m glad to say that I have not encountered this problem (at least not so far). First of all, the command team, AGR staff, and higher echelon staff (battalion in this case) should all be working toward the same goal, and professionalism should be the order of the day. The company commander is still the commander, even if he is not full-time, and the first sergeant is the first sergeant. Believe me, I would not hesitate to walk up to any Soldier who required an on-the-spot correction, pull out my ID, and make that correction, even on a weekday and in civilian clothes. The rating scheme suggestion is also good advice. As first sergeant I rate my AGR readiness NCO, and either the XO or I (we tend to turn over XOs quickly) senior rates the supply and training NCOs.

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