If you are the XO in an Army company, battalion or brigade, you're in charge of running the machinery that keeps it moving. In conjunction with the first sergeant or sergeant major of that group, you'll take care of administrative and supply issues, as well as ensure soldiers are training and advancing as they should. Your role in the executive officer position makes a dramatic impact on your unit's readiness and the well-being of those under you.
The role of executive officer doesn't imply a given rank. You could be the XO of a division or company, depending on your current position within the Army. For example, the XO or deputy commander of a division is usually a brigadier general, while a company XO is normally a first lieutenant. There are multiple steps in between, each carrying more responsibility in terms of troop, vehicle and hardware sizes and numbers. For example, a company is usually about 200 men and women, while a division numbers around 15,000. When you think of all the supplies and support required for each of these Army units, there clearly isn't much downtime or shortage of things to do.
Like any job, the Army is filled with paperwork. You'll work closely with your noncommissioned officers and first sergeant to ensure your soldiers' training is up to speed, as well as making sure supplies and materiel are well-stocked and maintained. You'll handle much of the paperwork surrounding unit transfers, promotions and award submissions. Administration of an Army unit also mandates reporting unit readiness to your commanding officer, while handling any minor disciplinary concerns with your NCOs.
Vehicle and Supply Maintenance
In modern war zones -- especially those involving considerable amounts of sand -- vehicles break down routinely. In these environments, one of your chief jobs as XO will be to ensure -- with the help of your motor pool officers and sergeants -- that vehicles are up and running. This means proper and timely ordering of new parts such as engines damaged in combat, as well as routine concerns like making sure there are enough tires and tools to get these jobs done. Vehicles are essential in a modern, mobile Army, so this task is one of the more important things you'll deal with. Your job among many as an XO is that of chief logistician. You're in command of making sure your soldiers are ready with the hardware and supplies needed to carry out their tasks. This will involve long hours filling out orders and communicating with your quartermaster, but is key in making sure your unit runs like a well-oiled machine.
The XO in a time of war is often in charge of troops on the ground. In may cases and depending on your actual rank at the time, your commanding officer might remain at headquarters while you take command in the field. Even if you aren't pulling a trigger, you will be tasked with executing strategy and relaying orders to your platoon leaders or company commanders. In an HQ role, you are in charge of everything from tracking enemy movements to making sure field medics have enough kits.
David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.