As part of the task organization of the SBCT, the Stryker Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) element provides the Battalion with intelligence, fire support, protection and small scale sustainment through its specialty platoons and HQ sections. Briefly speaking, the HQ section includes the Battalion command section and the coordinating, special and personal staff members such as the S1, S2, S3, etc.
The Headquarters Company consists of the Battalion’s Scout, Mortar, Medical, Sniper, Communication and Fire Support sections. The HHC Commander’s mission is to provide the immediate leadership, supply, and human resources support to the Battalion’s command group, staff and specialty platoons. Second in Command to the HHC Commander and critical to the coordination of these efforts is the HHC XO who exercises the duties and responsibilities which we will outline in this article.
In the broad scheme of things, the HHC XO is responsible for synchronizing the Company FTUS and other Battalion staff activities and information flow, closely monitoring the admin and logistic issues within the Company, maintaining the HHC & Battalion HQ vehicle fleet, serving as acting Commander in the absence of the Commander and pretty much any other duty prescribed by the Commander.
The HHC XO differs from the other Company Executive Officers due to the complexities of the HQ and HQ Company dynamic. In fact, HHC XOs are typically given the assignment after serving as a Company XO. Additionally, there are LOT more vehicles, personnel and equipment to monitor, maintain, track and service. If you have read our Part-Time Commander’s fantastic Part-Time Army Company XO Training Course, you know that the XO position revolves around SUPPLY, ADMINSTRATION, MAINTENANCE, TRAINING MANAGEMENT and other miscellaneous duties. Let’s explore each of these areas and how they are specific to the HHC XO.
SUPPLY: Between the Battalion “Fisters”, S3 Shop, Mortars and Sniper there is a lot of equipment and supplies in the HHC Company. Within a typical Company, there is a lot of equipment but for the most part is consistent across all the Platoons. At the HHC level, you have specialized equipment for each section and Platoon and, unless you are well versed in the realm of supply, it is extremely difficult to keep your head above water in terms of supply.
Part of some typical things you will do as an XO is conduct monthly cyclic inventories, sensitive item inventories, OCIE inspections, parts/equipment tracking and the list goes on. Overall, your job is to make sure that every single piece of equipment is on hand and serviceable when needed. This is only achievable through precise accountability by ensuring equipment is properly inventoried, PMCSd and paced out to be serviced by maintenance. Some tips would be to 1) become familiar with the equipment within each section 2) work closely with your Supply SGT and 3) get organized (and while you’re at it, help you Supply Sergeant get organized too!)
ADMINSTRATION: While this arena of XO duties and responsibilities is not as time consuming as others, it is still very important. As XO you will be a rater and Senior rater for NCOs within the Company (depending on your Battalion’s rating scheme. Currently, I Senior Rate our FTUS Supply SGT and am the FFT NCOIC’s rater). On top of that you will be responsible for taking meeting minutes, putting in Soldiers for awards, writing citations for promotions, managing information flowing from the Battalion staff to the FTUS/Commander/1SG…the list goes on. When it comes to administrative responsibilities, I would suggest sitting down with your Commander to determine and nail down what is expected. Some Commanders handle more than others and prefer to be more hands on, and others don’t. Either way, always look for opportunities to help out your Commander and FTUS.
MAINTENANCE: I am not exaggerating when I say that maintenance is the top priority of a Company XO…especially the HHC XO. On a typical drill weekend (and a good portion of my regular civilian work week), I spend 80% of my time worrying about maintenance. Similar to supply, your expectation as the XO is to have a handle on the wheeled/tracked stock within your Company and ensure that it is mission capable at all times. This means battle tracking vehicles, working closely with the FTUS and FMS shop to move, pace out and ensure vehicles are being serviced on time and to standard. Maintenance is your bread and butter and the buck stops with YOU! You must ensure vehicles are properly PMCSd, equipment parts are being ordered and no there are no maintenance surprises for the Commander to be surprised with.
TRAINING MANAGEMENT: Being second in Command and essentially a Commander in training, taking part in the training management process is very critical as an XO. HHC is a very neat and humbling experience as the depth, breadth and diverse elements that make up the HHC are those who you manage along with the Commander. I am a thoroughbred tanker, that’s my area of expertise. I really enjoy mixing it up with the Snipers, Mortars, FDC and even our Medics learning what they do, how they train and what they bring to the fight.
If you have this opportunity, take it because nowhere else will you learn about those assets that make a Commander’s element the strongest. So how does the XO support Training Management? It depends on the Commander and how much he/she wants you to be involved (usually the 1SG is very involved here as it is his duty to train Soldiers). Myself, I develop training meeting agendas, run training meetings, conduct the combined Company AAR, obviously supply the logistics of the training, assist PLs with TO&Es and make observations for the Commander (who can’t be two places at once!) It may not seem glamorous, but these things greatly assist the Commander as he thinks “big picture” and is trying to develop his own assessment of the Company and his METL tasks.
There you have it, the SBCT HHC XO Duties and Responsibilities as brief as I could make it! Even if you’re not an HHC XO, everything discussed in this article goes for a any XO. I hope that this article gave you a little bit more insight into the special dynamic of the HHC element and some of the similarities and differences between a regular line unit.
Have any of you served in an HHC element? What insight do you have? Please feel free to share!
Former Army Major (resigned)
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