Value of platoon commanding experience?

Discussion in 'Staff College and Staff Officers' started by Once_a_soldier, Feb 17, 2012.

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  1. Greetings all, am interested in hearing comment from officers as to the perceived value of their time served as a platoon commander. I served three years on continuous operations (Rhodesia) on a six week out followed by 10 days R&R.

    I would appreciate hearing from all (but certainly field officers) as to how much they draw on their service with a platoon and especially on active service (if that is considered to make a difference).

    No formal research being conducted... the question as a result of discussions with the old and bold from my war.

    Much obliged.
  2. You don't have to be an officer to command a platoon. I wasn't.
    • Like Like x 5
  3. OK, my question was how much the platoon commanding experience was beneficial later in ones career, field rank and above.
  4. I'd say that Pl Comd is where you start to put the theory into practice. From there you keep learning and building on the expereince and that, insh'Allah, you continue to get better at it until you find your ceiling.
  5. You can't command a Company, if you haven't commanded a Plt... same goes fora Bn/Regt.

    Admittedly staff jobs may not neccesarily benefit from this experience.
  6. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Me neither, admittedly when I did the lads followed me because they had to rather than because they wanted to!
    ARF LO a great job
    • Like Like x 1
  7. I heard it was out of curiosity.
    • Like Like x 2
  8. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    So did I but I couldn't spell it!
  9. Just do what I do... busk it and hope it works out.
  10. The German Army that gave my Grandad's generation such a tough time in 39-45, agree with px4llp: they did not regard Platoon Command as an Officer's job - so they organised on the basis of 1 x Offr Pl Comd per Coy.

    The point of that, was that - as a.n. other poster has already said - if you don't know about commanding a Platoon, you're not well placed to command anything bigger. So, the Herman's view was (prob'ly still is) that Pl Comd is work experience as prep for 'proper' officer command appointments - which start at Coy Comd (in the rank of Capt, in many Armies).

    Personally (based on 30 yrs Regular service, badged infantry, topping out as staff college graduate-passed-over-Major-never-commanded-more-than-a Rifle-Coy (after 15 yrs in), I'd say the 2 yrs I spent in command of a rifle Platoon were the most fun and the most educational of my life. I'd also say that I consciously drew on that experience as I moved on - and indeed, successively, on the experience of commanding recruits in training, and a Support Weapons platoon and so on. These days, (nearly a decade into civvy street) I continue to consciously excavate my military experiences for insights into matters of leadership, organisation, communication, planning . . .

    I wouldn't like to guess how many of my upwardly-mobile peers in the British Army of the 70s to 90s, had any interest in that way of thinking, however.
  11. ...and looking back has the perceived value of the platoon commander experience grown or diminished with time?
  12. Interesting point. Is there general agreement over this?

    My mind does boggle over the possibility of the havoc staff officers can cause if they don't (through no prior service at platoon level) have any understanding of or empathy for troops at the sharp end. Shades of WW1?
  13. Schaden

    Schaden LE Book Reviewer

    In which military system would one find a staff officer who hasn't commanded a platoon? As for active service that is something fairly new - many military organisations in NATO have before the present unpleasantness in the M/E spent decades without active service.
  14. Which would also indicate that they understood the need for 'direct entry' officers to cut their teeth at platoon level?

    I'm told that with promotion to captain possible in 3-4 years in the US military young inexperienced captains commanding companies is the order of the day. A good thing?

    ...the most educational of your life? Care to elaborate please?

    After ten years in civvie street do you have an opinion on civvie leadership and other skills?

    Read about that 'horror story' in Beevor's book 'Inside the British Army' published in 1990.
  15. Bang on. An SO2 with no experience of command (at any level) would be little better than a civil servant of "equivalent" grade.