What is the best type of battalion to command? This is really a double-edged-sword type of question. But, I will do my best to answer it as I see it. For the most part, this article pertains to USAR and ARNG officers. Let me begin by telling you that getting a battalion command of any battalion is much better than not getting battalion command. It’s a proven fact, that a large percentage of Lieutenant Colonels never get selected for battalion command. So if you get selected for command, consider yourself lucky!
Additionally, the type of battalion that you will get to command can vary significantly by a large variety of factors such as:
- Your Previous OERs – Your previous OERs, especially as a Major and Lieutenant Colonel will be reviewed closely before you get selected for battalion command.
- Your Previous Jobs – What jobs you had can have an impact on what type of battalion you will get to command.
- Your Officer Branch – Your officer branch will make you eligible for certain battalion commands and ineligible for other commands.
- Your Career Field – Your career field can have a huge impact on what type of battalion you get.
- The Units in Your State – This is a big one, especially in the Army National Guard. Since you are limited to the battalions in your state, you won’t have too many different options to choose from, especially if you have a small state.
- Timing – Timing is critical. You need positions to open up at the right time. Since most battalion commanders spend 24 months in the job, you will have a small window of timing for the job you want to open up.
- Gender – Some branches are male only, but most aren’t.
- Who You Know – Ultimately, senior commanders will pick you for the job. You need to be networked and have a good reputation of being a great leader.
All things aside, I personally believe that a MTOE, deployable battalion is the best type of battalion to command. You have to remember that the Army’s mission is to fight and win our nations ground wars. There is no greater honor than leading a MTOE battalion in peacetime and/or combat. That doesn’t mean that TDA or non-deployable battalions are bad. But they definitely are inferior to line units.
At the end of the day, do your best with whatever battalion you are given. The battalion you get isn’t as important as the job you do as the battalion commander. Remember the job doesn’t make the person. The person makes the job.
If I could give you one final piece of advice it would be to take command of the worst MTOE battalion you can find in your state. Look for a unit with a lot of problems and issues. Assuming you are a good leader, you have nowhere to go but up! And you can make a drastic improvement right from day one while showing your senior leaders what you are capable of. This improves your value to the organization and opens new doors of opportunity.
Do you have any questions? Feel free to contact me here, and I will do my best to provide an answer.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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