A typical U.S. Army division consists of 10,000 to 18,000 male and female troops organized into three brigades. The chief of staff, typically a full colonel, is the principal advisor to the commander, who is usually a major general. The chief of staff directs and coordinates the activities of the division’s general staff, which distills huge amounts of information and makes it manageable for the commander. Once the commander makes decisions based on this information, the same staff takes appropriate action, communicating the decision throughout the division. In battlefield conditions, the CofS’s mission is to direct the general staff to help the commander outflank the enemy. The division chief of staff position was historically filled only by men because of the ban on women in combat units. However, the job opened to women in early 2013 when that ban was lifted.
Typical Division Staff Structure
The division staff typically consists of three groups: the commander's personal staff, the coordinating staff and the special staff. A division chief of staff doesn’t usually supervise the activities of the commander’s personal staff -- which might include a command sergeant major, chaplain, public affairs officer, staff judge advocate and inspector general -- but will interact with them on a regular basis. On the other hand, the chief of staff closely directs, coordinates and supervises the activities of the other two staff groups.
Relationship with the Commander
As the commander’s direct representative to the staff, the division chief of staff must have a very close relationship with the commander and a clear understanding of the commander’s vision. The CofS must then direct the staff accordingly. When staff members communicate directly with the commander, or vice versa, the chief of staff must be informed of the communication. In addition to overseeing the activities of the coordinating and special staffs, the chief of staff also keeps the commander apprised of the combat readiness status of each unit in the division Although the CofS normally has no line command responsibilities, he may be temporarily assigned to command portions of the division under special circumstances.
Coordinating Staff Group
A division's coordinating staff typically consists of seven officers responsible for broad fields of interest, including personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, civil-military operations, information operations, and command, control and computer operations. The division CofS supervises the training of coordinating staff and also oversees all tasks assigned to staff. She also establishes clear protocols and operating procedures to ensure staff members can fulfill their missions without interfering with one another. In addition, the CofS ensures that staff members coordinate their activities within the division as well as with headquarters, subordinate units and adjacent units.
A division's special staff is composed of personnel with highly specialized responsibilities. Members of the special staff may also have their own command responsibilities. For example, the engineer coordinator may also command an engineer brigade. At the division level, there may be more than two dozen special staff personnel. While each special staff member reports primarily to one coordinating staff member, many work for multiple coordinating staff members. Again, it falls to the CofS to coordinate these activities to ensure that special and coordinating staff officers can accomplish their missions without impeding each other.
The CofS carries direct responsibility for several other duties, including the integration and synchronization of the division’s war fighting plans. She directly supervises the main command post, including protection, communication and security. In addition to monitoring the division’s combat readiness, the chief of staff also monitors troops’ morale and discipline, alerting the commander about any issues.
Dale Marshall began writing for Internet clients in 2009. He specializes in topics related to the areas in which he worked for more than three decades, including finance, insurance, labor relations and human resources. Marshall earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Connecticut.