What is the Best Branch for Army Officer Development?

So, what is the best branch for Army Officer Development?  That is a question one of my website visitors asked me the other day and it really got me thinking.  As I see it, you can hone your skills and become a better leader in any Officer Branch.  I don’t think one branch is any better than another branch.   I’ve met good and bad Officers in every branch, from the Chaplain Corps to Infantry.

I believe that the jobs you take, the career field you choose, and your commitment to personal growth, are much more important than the branch you choose.  If you truly want to develop your leadership skills, you want to do a few different things.

First of all, you want to stay in MTOE units as much as possible, especially through your company grade years.  Stay “in the line” and serve in the tough jobs in MTOE units. These include positions such as Platoon Leader, Company XO, Company Commander, Battalion S3, Battalion Staff Officer, Battalion XO and Battalion Commander.   The only exception to this advice would be if you have a career field other than operations.  In that case, find out what jobs you need and seek them out.

I think it’s also important to state that I don’t think you will “naturally develop” your skills.  In other words, you must make a conscious decision and be proactive with your career development.   That means you need to find a mentor, read a lot of books, learn from your mistakes, attend lots of Army Schools, and do whatever else you can to gain a cutting edge. Remember, no one else cares about your development, or your career, as much as you do.

When it comes to the USAR and ARNG, my advice would be to get multiple branches.  Have one branch in the combat arms arena and another branch in either combat support or combat service support.  This will give you a wide variety of skills and increase your value to the Army.  If possible, try to get two branches that are completely different from each other.  For example, get qualified in the Armor Corps and then get a second branch in Finance or Logistics.

When it comes to Active Duty Officers, you can probably have one branch your entire career and be fine.  But even so, you might want to try out two or more career fields or at least get a unique Additional Skills Identifier (ASI) to increase your value to the Army.

Final Thoughts

In summary, there is no one specific branch that is better than others when it comes to Army Officer Development. What matters most is that you “stay in the MTOE units” and take the toughest jobs you can get.  You also want to find a good mentor, read books, get as many schools as you can and diversify your experience.  Remember, it’s your job to develop your skills.  Come up with a plan and make sure it gets done.

What are your thoughts about Army Officer Development?  Which branch do you think is the best branch for developing your skills as an Army Officer?  Leave a comment and let us know.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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4 thoughts on “What is the Best Branch for Army Officer Development?”

  1. Candace Ginestar

    I have a friend who went to her CCC in logistics and is now completing FA, this will give her a competitive edge over other LTs that just have one branch. It’s not about the branch, but it’s about the opportunities you seek for yourself. When I commissioned, I picked my boss, not my branch. Since the LTC I wanted to work for was the SCO of a RSTA Squadron, I knew I’d end up in something logistics by virtue of my gender.

    1. Having two branches is vital. In addition to that, you definitely need to position yourself for success by being good at your job and having a good network. People from just about any branch can make GO. The cream always rises to the top, regardless of branch.

  2. Faith A. Coleman

    This is another of the blogs that to me stands out in importance. You address that making the point that it isn’t the branch of the Army that determines whether or not a soldier gets promoted or has a satisfying work experience. It’s within the individual to determine how much they get out of the experience as being a function of what they put into it. It can be awfully difficult for an awful lot of people to “get it.” They look for a solution to a situation outside themselves, it’s always something they couldn’t control, something that relieves them of responsibility.

    1. People think a certain duty position or branch will “prepare” them. It won’t. Developing your skills and improving your leadership won’t happen at all, unless you have a game plan to do it. Yes, certain jobs are better for development than others, but that being said, it’s up to you to create a game plan to learn. All leaders should read, have mentors, reflect on their experience, study history, learn from their experience, etc.

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