The Company XO and Supply Sergeant Relationship

While the Commander leads the Company, the XO essentially “runs” the Company and is consumed with its daily behind the scenes operations.  The XO does this hand-in-hand with the Company 1SG.  One aspect unique of the National Guard and Army Reserves is the dynamic of the Full Time Unit Staff (FTUS). 

While the XO and 1SG are typically M-Day status, the FTUS is comprised of 3-4 AGR NCOs who really run the Company each day.  I say really because they are the ones doing the work.  So how does that overlap with you, the Company XO and your duties and responsibilities?

Do you just rely on these NCOs to do your job?  The answer is NO.  However, you should be focused on ensuring that you are doing your job through these fine NCOs and working together with them to support the Commander and the Soldiers in the unit.  In this article, we’re going to explore the FTUS Supply Sergeant and how the XO should work with him/her.

Let’s talk about the man, I say “the man” because when you are an XO the Supply Sergeant should be the FTUS NCO you spend the most time with and work most closely with.

The Supply Sergeant serves as the logistical expert executing the day-to-day functions of requesting, exchanging, issuing, recovery and turn-in of equipment.  They also account for OCIE items that are hand receipted to the Commander (or you).  Along with that, they sub-hand receipt property to the next user level and account for all property not sub-hand receipted.

In conjunction with the Training NCO, they obtain items needed to support training and operational objectives.  Working with FMS, they prepare maintenance requests for both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.  The list goes on and on.

Army Company XO DutiesWhat does this mean for you as XO?  Well, to begin you should be on the same page as this man.  You need to understand the maintenance workflow, ordering processes and other processes of how the logistics of the Company work.  Take a course on the PBUSE System, maintain spreadsheets of your vehicle fleet, whatever you have to do to have a grasp of everything.

From there, you provide the “big picture” objectives and direction for them.  For example, my Supply Sergeant conducts the actual movement of the vehicles between each IDT as needed for maintenance, but as XO I provide him with my maintenance objectives, pacing of vehicles to establish priorities and all the supporting paperwork to move the vehicles from site to site.

During the IDT weekend he conducts the sensitive items inventory and cyclic inventories, but as XO, I provide him with the list of NSN numbers to be inventoried and I conduct the spot checking of Platoons to ensure proper documentation and PMCS.  As you can see, we have a pretty decent relationship that is mutually supporting and accomplishes both objectives of both of our jobs.

While providing the Supply Sergeant with direction and guidance based on your logistical priorities, understand that the Supply Sergeant (or any FTUS NCO) do not work for you.  Yes, you may be his rater but he also has other people that he has to answer to (i.e. 1SG, Readiness NCO, Training NCO, Commander, Battalion S4, etc.).

The big thing to understand is that you and the Supply Sergeant work together and support each other to achieve each of your main objectives…ensuring the logistical needs of the Company are met.  Always remember that and don’t feel the need to treat your Supply Sergeant like he just works for you…I promise you will not get the type of results you’re looking for.

A couple things I’d like to share with you as tips are some things I do personally.  One, I always touch base with my Supply Sergeant (at least once a week) to discuss what’s new and what mine (or his) objectives are this week and the next.  The reason I do this is to stay on the same page and keep a positive contact and rapport.  I may have the S4 pushing me for something that the Supply Sergeant is unaware of and vice-versa.

It is also nice to understand what things are looking like from his perspective.  I remember once I felt that what I wanted done was of the utmost priority.  Little did I know that he was dealing with a Battalion suspense that week which I didn’t know about.  Keeping in communication with each other prevents those types of things from happening.

My second tip is don’t overcomplicate the Supply Sergeant’s life.  Let’s face it they have a lot on their plate.  I know a lot of Officers with “great ideas” and “processes” and “this and that” but they often create over complicated, redundant work for someone else.

One issue that our Unit had when I took over as XO was the lack of documentation of parts being ordered for equipment and the status of these parts.  Sure, I had plenty of great ideas on how to fix that, but the best solution came when I talked with my Supply Sergeant and examined how he did things.  All I had to do was understand his processes and fit my solution around that… in fact I actually made his job easier!  

part time army company xo training courseI know there are a lot of Company XOs who drift through their time as XO without lifting a finger.  Their FTUS do everything and to me, this is the wrong answer.  The FTUS Supply Sergeant is no exception.  To ensure the logistical needs of Company are met, it is critical to have a good relationship with the Supply Sergeant and a deep understanding of their duties and responsibilities and how they overlap with yours.

I hope this article helps provide some insight to the Company XO and FTUS Supply Sergeant Relationship.  Feel free to share some of your experiences with your Supply Sergeant with us!

Check out our Company XO Guide and learn what you should be doing in your job!

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2 thoughts on “The Company XO and Supply Sergeant Relationship”

  1. These are great tips that every new Commander should read. The Supply Sergeant does have a difficult job, and an XO can make it harder or easier. The thing is, the Supply Sergeant can make the XOs job harder or easier too. I like what Chuck said….When you are put in charge, one of your first informal meetings should be with your Supply Sergeant. B learning each others goals and objectives, you should be able to gain a mutual area where both are satisfied.

  2. One of my most rewarding jobs in the Army was serving as Company XO. And one of my best relationships in the Army was working with my Supply Sergeant, SSG Shank, while I was XO.

    If you’re doing your job right, you will probably spend 60 to 80% of your time doing supply related issues. The Supply Sergeant handles so many things and has one of the most important jobs in the Company.

    One of the best things you can do when you start the job is to sit down with the Supply Sergeant and define roles. Find out what their goals are, how they do business, and what they need done.

    Pitch in and help. Don’t think you are too good to do some manual labor. Learn what you can from the Supply Sergeant, because it will really help you out when you become a Company Commander.

    Find out how inventories are done. Learn about lateral transfers, interacting with the PBO, turning in equipment, ordering equipment, etc. Pick their brain and soak up the knowledge.

    Treat them with mutual respect and be their cheerleader! Do that and your experience will be very rewarding and fulfilling.

    I hope that helps.

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