Value of platoon commanding experience?

#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.
 
#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.
 

ugly

LE
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#6
You don't have to be an officer to command a platoon. I wasn't.
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
 
#10
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.
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
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.
...and looking back has the perceived value of the platoon commander experience grown or diminished with time?
 
#12
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.
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?
 
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#13
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
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.
Which would also indicate that they understood the need for 'direct entry' officers to cut their teeth at platoon level?

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).
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?

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 . . .
...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?

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.
Read about that 'horror story' in Beevor's book 'Inside the British Army' published in 1990.
 
#15
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?
Bang on. An SO2 with no experience of command (at any level) would be little better than a civil servant of "equivalent" grade.
 
#16
General agreement then that the staff are ineffective without relevant comd experience. In my experience much angst and friction is caused when members of staff forget the reality at the coal face. And/or as often happens individuals cloak themselves in the dignity and importance that really only belongs to the Comd they serve. (I'm not coming holier than thou, as it's a poo-trap I've fallen into myself on occasion.) I reckon that any HQ has 2 functions: First to support the Comd; a very close second is to support and not simply control the units under comd. It's the second bit that often gets lost.
 
#17
... adding to this thread.

What is the perceived value of commanding a platoon in war (Iraq/Afghanistan) over in routine peace time?

What % of subbies got at least six months and should greater efforts have been made to make sure they were adequately 'blooded' in combat at the different levels?

I ask this as by the end of my war those who had been subbies in the early ops were starting to come through to command units. We down the line could tell the difference between them and the earlier 'group' who grew up in peace time.
 
#18
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?
A good thing for them, maybe. As they tend to have (dispite the 'hoohar hyperbole) a much more rigid and managed style of ops in their mainstream units.
 
#19
A good thing for them, maybe. As they tend to have (dispite the 'hoohar hyperbole) a much more rigid and managed style of ops in their mainstream units.
Thanks, I have heard that. But it always brings me back to this:

British manual 'Keeping the Peace' Part 2 - Tactics and Training - 1963.

332. Leadership and battle discipline.. Fighting an underground enemy probably requires a higher standard of junior leadership than any other type of warfare yet experienced. ... Command often has to be decentralized and the training of junior commanders must, therefore, be directed towards giving them the ability and confidence to make sound decisions and act on their own initiative.
 
#20
It says you need a higher standard of junior leadership, not junior leadership at higher levels...

The Captain at Coy level may be not as effective as a Capt in charge of a Plt or Plt group.
 
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