The Battalion XO is second in command within an Army battalion. As the battalion’s “chief of staff”, and “second in charge”, he must be prepared to assume the duties of the commander at any time. The commander may use the XO to operate the unit’s main CP, the alternate CP, or supervise overall logistical support.
He must decide how he can use the XO most effectively given individual staff strengths, mission requirements, and METT-T, and then communicate his intentions clearly. Coordinating staff officers are responsible directly to the XO. At the battalion level, the coordinating staff includes the S1, S2, S3, and S4. Additionally, the special staff, including task force attachments, are directly responsible to the XO during the staff planning process.
The Battalion XO is directly responsible to the Battalion Commander to ensure the staff is coordinated, synchronized, and supervised during the decision making process. He is the primary synchronizer of staff actions, both in garrison, and in the TOC. The coordinating staff officers assist the commander by coordinating the plans, activities and operations of the command. Collectively, they have responsibility for the commander’s entire field of responsibilities, except in areas the commander decides to control personally or which are reserved by law or regulation.
Here is a basic list (but certainly not exclusive) of the Battalion XO’s Duties and Responsibilities:
- Establishing staff operating procedures
- Ensuring the commander and the staff are informed on matters affecting the command
- Assembling and supervising the staff during the decision-making process ensuring a coordinated, synchronized plan
- Establishing timelines (1/3-2/3)
- Establishing the required liaison
- Ensuring information flow between the staff and commander on staff recommendations and the commander’s decisions
- Representing the commander (when required) and supervising the main CP and its operations
- Monitoring the overall battle and supervising planning of future operations
- Directing the staff
- Displacing the main CP
- Enforcing standing operating procedures
- Deployment and readiness of the battalion
- Serving as the materiel readiness officer and supervising unit status reporting
- Providing for battalion logistical support
- Leading the Military Decision Making Process during staff planning
Additionally, here is a list of things to consider with respect to the Battalion XO and Battalion Commander relationship:
What the XO needs to know from the Battalion Commander:
- How the battalion commander plans to use him
- Responsibilities in TOC operations
- What his relationship is with the S3
- Decision making authority for the commander/command structure
- Commander’s intent and guidance
- Command philosophy
What the Battalion Commander needs to know from the XO:
- Operating policies and procedures
- Staff coordinated recommendations
- Current status of CBT, CS, and CSS assets within the task force
- Status of available resources
- Operating budget
- Unit Status Report
- Materiel readiness
The Battalion XO position is a tough, rewarding and important job. In essence, the Battalion XO is where the rubber meets the road. He or she needs to be an “action oriented” person who knows how to get things done. By the time you finish your duties and responsibilities as a Battalion XO, you should be prepared to take Battalion Command.
What are your thoughts? Post your comments and questions below. Thank you.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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