Serving as an Aide-de-Camp is one of those “make you or break you jobs.”
It’s a good job to have, if you are successful in the position, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
In the Army, General Officer’s get an Aide-de-Camp to assist them and make their life easier.
The rank and number or the aides is based upon the General Officer’s rank.
Here’s the typical breakdown:
- Brigadier Generals have a Lieutenant
- Major Generals have a Captain
- Lieutenant Generals have a Major, Captain and Lieutenant
- Generals have a Lieutenant Colonel, Major and Captain Aide
- The Army Chief of Staff typically has 1 Colonel, 1 Lieutenant Colonel and 1 Major
General’s have the right to choose their own aides.
Sample Aide-de-Camp Job Description
# 1 Serves as Aide-de-Campe to the Commanding General of the 183rd Airborne Division. Responsible for planning social events, assisting the General in personal matters, planning travel, and completing special tasks as requested by the General. Supervises the General’s staff to include 1 other Officer, 2 NCOs and 2 civilians.
# 2 Serves as Aide-de-Campe to the Assistant Division Commander (Maneuver) of the 37th Cavalry Division. Responsible for handling all correspondence, providing security to the General, performing routine activities, preparing trip itineraries, coordinating protocol events, and other tasks as assigned by the General. Supervise one other Officer, 3 NCOs and 2 civilians.
*** Please keep in mind that these are just some draft job descriptions I made up. You can add to them or modify them any way you would like.
Sample Aid-de-Camp Duties and Responsibilities
Aide-de-Camps have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Here are a few of the things you will need to do for the General.
- Providing Security for the General
- Perform routing activities to save the General time
- Prepare and organize calendars and schedules
- Prepare trip itineraries
- Coordinate protocol activities
- Serve as the Executive Assistant
- Meet and host visitors
- Supervise additional staff members
- Performing varied duties, according to the general officer’s desires
- Other tasks include email management, preparing and reviewing correspondence, assisting with social functions, planning travel, greeting visitors, bartender, secretary, diplomat, caterer, author, map reader, mind reader, promotions, and vehicle support
The bottom line is that you have to be the Jack of All Trades to be successful.
Every General Officer has a different personality and different expectations about what their aide will or will not do.
What you should do is talk to the previous aide and ask the General what they expect of you.
After you’ve worked for the General for a few months, you should have things pretty much figured out.
Tips for Success as an Aide-de-Camp
# 1 Understand Your Role – First and foremost, you must know your role. You must understand that job is to do whatever the General asks so you can make their life easier. Your job is to serve the General and take care of them. I suggest you ask the General what they want you to do and what they expect of you. Every General is different, so don’t try to read their mind when you first start the job.
# 2 Be Humble – You have to humble yourself if you want to succeed in the job. As a commissioned officer, you might not be used to wining and dining someone. You might not be used to doing personal things for people you work for. You might even think you are “too good” to do some of the tasks you are being asked to do. Humble yourself or you will not survive in this job.
# 3 Be a Sponge – Serving as an Aide is a rare opportunity. One of the greatest aspects of the job is the things you will be exposed to. You will be around other Senior Officers and NCOs. You will learn new ideas. You will learn how the “big” decisions are made. You will see how the “big Army” works. These are all once in a lifetime experiences that you should cherish and soak up.
# 4 Network with Everyone You Can – You will meet some of the Army‘s movers and shakers while you are in the job. Do what you can to form good professional relationships. These relationships can really excel your career. Network with other Generals and other aides. Build up a rolodex of people you can network with. Be nice to everyone you meet.
# 5 Never make the General Look Bad – Your # 1 priority is to NEVER put the General in a position where you make them look bad. Make sure they are never late. Make sure you never speak for the General. Never speak off record or try to tell someone what you think the General is thinking.
# 6 Always Make the General Your Top Priority – During your one to two years in the job, you have to always place the General as your number one priority. All of your personal ambitions should be put on hold. Your job is to make the General successful. Make them successful and you will be successful.
# 7 Maintain Your Discipline and Professional Appearance – You represent the General at all times. You must stay in shape, be highly disciplined and maintain your military bearing. Don’t think that you wear the General’s rank. Treat other people well and be a professional Soldier/Officer at all times.
I had a website visitor send me some personal stories of his time as an aide-de-camp.
I’ll keep his name private to protect his identity. He did give me permission to post these stories to my website.
I’d been at Fort Bliss for a year when a new General arrived and wanted to keep the troops on their toes.
He wanted weekly facility inspections starting with an unannounced visit to the most obscure unit under his command.
That facility was located about 50 miles out in the middle of the desert.
When we got there it looked just like Ft. Apache.
We walked straight to the flag pole and stood at attention waiting for someone to greet us.
Cars were suddenly flying down desert roads, men were running around grabbing hats and stuffing in shirts and there we stood, at attention, in the sun, waiting.
Finally a Sergeant showed up and showed us around.
As we got out of the staff car on our return, the General casually mentioned I should have the responsible Colonel in his office immediately.
I couldn’t tell that condemned officer anything as I escorted him to the General’s office and shut the door.
I still remember the yelling.
I could have made a lot of money in bribes from a lot of Colonels after that.
One of the functions I had was the lead in the reception line at official functions.
It was my job to introduce each officer and his escort.
Before my Aide assignment I had trouble with a particular Captain, when he appeared in front of me for the first time I got brain lock, the General gave me a funny look and took over.
By the way, remember those inspections in Story#1?
That Captain got more than his share.
Another thing I’ve never admitted before, I always diluted the General’s drinks (he wasn’t a drinker anyway).
The General was going to retire soon and gave me orders to find him a sports car to tinker with.
I found him a nicely used MGA.
On our last visit to McGregor range for a firing demonstration, he showed up in his MGA instead of the staff car and off we went, waving nicely as we passed through the very familiar (to us) guard station at the range.
I don’t think we got 50 yards before being surrounded by MPs.
I still remember the MP captain tipping his hat and asking if we could please stop at the gate next time.
Serving as an Aid-de-Camp can be a good career move, if you do well in the job.
It’s one of the toughest and most demanding jobs in the Army, and it’s definitely not for everyone.
That being said, the job can really help you establish a strong professional network, plus you can learn a lot about the “big picture Army” that can prepare you for future jobs.
In the Active Duty, if you want to make it to the top ranks, you want to spend time as an Aide-de-Camp.
In the USAR and ARNG, it’s not as important for upward mobility.
Just remember that while you are in the position, your job is to make the General successful.
Your own agenda is irrelevant.
If you’ve ever served as an Aide-de-Camp, I would love to hear from you.
Please share your thoughts and best success tips by leaving a comment below.
Sources & References