The Battalion XO Duties, Responsibilities and Job Description

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

Final Thoughts

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.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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9 thoughts on “The Battalion XO Duties, Responsibilities and Job Description”

  1. I have a BN XO who says that mentoring the company XOs is his job, however, I don't see that in the duty and description and he's having the XOs do work that the staff should be doing. Is this doctrinal?

    1. The XO will mentor the Company XOs with day to day things, HOWEVER, the Company Commander is the Company XO’s rater and mentor. Just food for thought.

  2. The Battalion XO sounds like a tough, but fun job. This is definitely a job that I would want to do if I was in the Army.

    1. This sounds like a really tough but fun job. The great thing about being the Deputy is that you are the one doing a lot of the grunt work. If you like to be busy and if you are a doer, this is the perfect job for you.

  3. Justin,
    This is a great overall view for up and coming XO’s. I would encourage you to continue this line of articles. Give the major duties an article to themselves. Many of the XO’s I served with shared with me that they had no real place to draw experience from with regard to primary duties of the XO. If you could provide key lessons learned and pass on valuable experience I sincerely believe the XO community would benefit from such information.
    Here are two lessons learned from the best XO I served with:

    1. He made it his mission to create solutions to repetitive tasks that sucked the life blood out of CMD teams and Staff Principles. This one focus freed up valuable time.
    2. He also ensured that he engaged the senior leadership in the BN to be part of the solution. He developed a strong sense of teamwork within this group and encouraged the true sharing of information. He ensured that the sharing of knowledge was rewarded while hoarding knowledge was absolutely unacceptable.

    These two things did so much to change attitude and dedication of the unit.

    1. The Battalion XO job sounds really fun and challenging. On average, how much military experience does an XO have?

  4. Great post, Justin. Serving as a Battalion XO was probably the only job in the Army I wish I would have had, but didn’t. They have so much responsibility and pretty much run the battalion. They get to work closely with the staff and the Company XOs. They’re a big fish in a small pond with a ton of responsibilities.

    If I ever go back in the military, I would love to be a Battalion XO. The job matches my personality and skill set. I think I would personally enjoy it even more than Battalion Command. Just my two cents. Thanks for the informative guest post.


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