As you progress in the Army as an officer – and sometimes as an NCO – you’re bound to end up on staff at some point or another. Like death or taxes, it is inevitable – and sometimes as equally dreaded. One of the perks of staff – besides the feeling of constant dread and the ability to always walk around with a cup of lukewarm coffee with the consistency of sludge – is getting to work with people from other branches.
When your career path edges you into higher echelons of the staff, you end up rubbing elbows with people from a multitude of branches – some that you never knew even existed. And nowhere are the differences in personalities from each branch more apparent than on staff. What follows is a breakdown of the type of staff officers that you’ll be wont to come across in your career.
Infantry staff officers – If you can’t ruck it, shoot it, smoke/dip it, drink it, or make it do pushups, the infantry staff officer doesn’t really care about it.
Armor staff officers – Does your course of action involve tanks? Does any part of the operation involve tanks? If not, why? And if yes, then all the tanks need to be doing tank things: namely, rolling over and through the enemy, no matter who they are.
Cavalry staff officers – What do you mean wearing a Stetson all day isn’t allowed? No, I won’t take my feet off my desk. And of course we can take that objective of dug-in T-80 tanks with one troop of cav scouts.
Aviation staff officers – No, they won’t get a haircut, and yes, crew rest always applies. They won’t be at PT because pilots don’t need to run fast, they just need to fly.
Engineer staff officers – Look, just tell us where to put obstacles and build roads and we’ll make it happen. Other than that, we’ll be in the corner trying to get rid of this killer hangover.
Chemical staff officers – Look, there’s totally a CBRN threat. Definitely. No? Ok, well, they templated out your slideshows for the next 90 days and there’s a fresh pot of coffee made.
Adjutant General staff officers – They’ll just be in the ALOC telling stories about how much fun AG BOLC was and constantly judging you for having so many late evaluations.
Military Intelligence staff officers – They’re smarter than you and won’t let you forget it. You wanted to know the enemy most dangerous course of action? Here’s a threat wheel with so much data that it will make the human mind explode and is impossible for anyone without a statistics PhD to understand. Stop asking them about the weather.
Logistics staff officers – Are long-suffering since they are ignored by all the maneuver staff officers until the maneuver force can no longer shoot or move. And then suddenly it’s somehow their fault. Often found drinking with the engineers.
Transportation staff officers – Your trucks are all broken because you don’t do proper PMCS and all routes are black. And no, they can’t get a new uniform that’s not covered in engine grease. That would just be wrong.
Military Police staff officers – No, you’re wrong. Always. Don’t argue, or they’ll take their force protection package and go home.
Air Defense Artillery staff officers – Who? What are they? Just excited to be relevant again.
Field Artillery staff officers – There is no problem that can’t be solved by the application of massed and concentrated high explosives. They have a fires template in their back pocket and are offended that your course of action regarding stability operations does not include them.
Signal staff officers – Look, the reason you can’t get on Sharepoint is because you missed one of 80 mandatory online courses that were briefed this quarter. No, you can’t get connectivity support because the 6 is at yet another cyber conference.
Cyber officers – Too new to be taken seriously at this point. But are slowly dying inside from people constantly misusing the word “cyber.”
Special Forces officers – You won’t see them. And when you do, they won’t give input for mission analysis other than, “It’s classified.”
Chaplain – Will find new and inventive ways to categorize the spiritual health of the force.
Civil Affairs officers – Yes, they’ll be wearing civilian clothes and mocking your slides all day.
Medical Services officers – Actually skilled at their jobs and can’t believe that MDMP is a real thing that people use without feelings of self-harm.
Ordnance officers – Blow it up. Just blow all of it up. Or maybe resupply it. What was the question?
Dental Corps officers – Will always politely inform you that 37% of your force is non-deployable because their teeth are falling out.
Quartermaster officers – You can’t afford to buy the things you want and even if you could, the property book wouldn’t support it. Now go see the JAG about how much stuff you’re missing and the pending charges against you.
Judge Advocate General officers – They don’t like you. They don’t like anyone. Because they know just how awful you all are.
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About the Author: Angry Staff Officer is an Army engineer officer who is adrift in a sea of doctrine and staff operations and uses writing as a means to retain his sanity. He also collaborates on a podcast with Adin Dobkin entitled War Stories, which examines key moments in the history of warfare.
Cover photo: CAMP BLANDING, Fla–Lt. Col. Michael Hoblin (left), commander of the New York Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery Regiment, talks with his staff officers after a mission analysis briefing at Camp Blanding, Fla., March 9. The staff officers trained on the Military Decision Making Process as part of the unit’s annual training in Florida.
17 Replies to “The Different Types of Army Staff Officers by Branch”
You forgot the Nurse Corps *latex glove snapping sound*
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Veterinary Corps, too. You know…the Corps that is only part of AMEDD/PHC when it is convenient for them for the VC to be. But hey ho, none of the branches need any MWDs. Or food/water in theater. Or your ridiculously cheap, government subsidized, preventive medicine for your pets. Now do you?
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How could I forget MWDs?!
I spent 17 years active duty Army, then 27 more as a DA Civilian. (Run the numbers for a good idea of when). Most of my active duty time was either a line unit Training NCO or on staff. Those descriptions of the various branch staff officers are funny mostly because they are spot on.
I didn’t realize just how crazy a staff could be until I suddenly found myself assigned as the Adjutant of a Cav Squadron — no not while I was an NCO, while I was a DA Civilian! To make it even funnier, ALL of my background was in Training Management. All I knew about the S1 was that their office was two doors down the hall from my office in the three shop. After my training background and several years as a GS-1712-11, I had accepted a position managing all the training support for a branch school training department. Due to the peculiarities of the Civilian Personnel System that training management position was classified as a GS-341-11 “Administrative Officer.” Then came a reorganization to make the branch school look like a Regiment and magically some committee decided that “Administrative Officer” must equal “Adjutant”. It took almost six months to convince TRADOC and DA that orders coming out of the Squadron that were signed For The Commander were legit despite a signature block that had neither a rank nor a branch.
Worked on an Royal Air Force HQ staff for quite a while. The crushing realisation on the faces of newly joined Fast Jet officers as they came to the realisation that the whole world didn’t revolve around them (and that flight suits were not acceptable attire) never failed to amuse!
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You forgot property book CWOs.
Also, failure to understand PowerPoint, excel, or -10 level computer operations is always the sigos fault. What do you mean I can’t transfer the slides with my USB flash drive, that’s how I’ve always done it! Can’t print my slides with no toner and jammed trays, didn’t teach me to use a teleconference phone, this will reflect in your OER.
No PSYOP officers?!
As they say on talk radio “long time listener, first time caller”
These were awesome! How about the Branch Immaterial “Iron Major” staff officer that believes he has the right to personally shut down 2 & 3 star generals because he’s at their higher HQ.
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After a short and mediocre stint in the Infantry, I realized I liked driving more than walking and re-enlisted as an 88M, slotted as the CG’s driver in a reserve Medical Brigade. Seeing the brigade staff in action was the Army equivalent to watching sausage being made. What a cast of characters: The Chief of Staff who always looked like he was having a stroke; the strangely aggressive female 0-4 personnel officer; the staff entomologist (a full Colonel) who wandered the halls all day having nothing to do; the preventative medicine officer (another full Colonel) who still wore the early ’80s BDUs with the Elvis collar; and the Muslim husband-and-wife scientist/Captains, where the husband/Captain didn’t want anyone speaking directly to his wife/Captain. Oh, and the temporarily attached ROTC cadet (pre-dental) who pursued conjugal relations with the HQ Company Commander, until the Chief Nurse, a Vietnam veteran, stepped in and “counseled” the young 3rd Lieutenant…And you know, I loved every second of it. I can still remember their words to me when I told them I was going to Iraq with a line haul unit: “So who is going to carry our luggage?”
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Sounds like a MASH episode! I don’t suppose the surgeons spent their non-operating time in bath robes and Hawaiian shirts?
You left out the Finance Corp!! I’ll be sure to let the G8 know you want to give back some funds because you failed to plan your budget properly. 😉
Haha, ADA all the way!! (14A here… yup, got it right.)
Knowing what the weather is going to be like would seem important for any unit out in the field. At risk of being called unkind names, I’ve gotta ask: If that isn’t the Intel officer’s job, then whose is it? And how much trouble would you be in if you suggested recruiting some meteorologists?
Alas, meteorologists are all in the Air Force. The Air Force has units that are co-located with Army commands for the specific purpose of providing their best guess about the upcoming weather.
Forgot the mighty PAO. What’s a commander without his messages and talking points? And stop the S3 from tasking me to do the BDE Executive Summary because he claims his staff officers “can’t write.” You’re not the boss of me.
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In Mordor Military CBRN personnel oftentimes is also seen as people who are not busy. The consequences are quite predictable i suppose, for if a military serviceman is not busy, why the hell do you need him? 🙂
On the level of service the said problem is solved by making the CBRN responsible for planning and applying the heavy-duty and special means of aerosol camouflage for the purpose of maskirovka, collective protection of the friendly forces and assets against enemy precision weaponry, etc. Also, CBRN dabbles in artillery fire support and is heavily involved in assault engineering. For those who don’t know what the latter is and how it might be possible, just consider that a concentrated salvo of Flamethrower Platoon armed with hand-held weaponry reliably brings down an average multi-story apartment building.
On the ground though? Sadly, in some units the CBRN have to make themselves useful or at least seem useful, lest they will be regularly made useful by getting thrown at emergent problems, no matter the nature of said problem. Giving dilettante a job that is supposed to be done by specialist is known for its potential for… making things interesting, but it should be noted that not all unanticipated outcomes are made equal or necessarily unpleasant.
Once upon a time during the large-ish wargames certain CBRN officer ended up in charge of counter-sabotage defense of command centre, specifically a multi-story underground bunker akin to those inhabited by last users of 5″ diskettes on the planet.
It’s not like there would be any enemy saboteurs, right? What can possibly go wrong?
Reportedly, it was quite hilarious to see the faces of the people who spent two days trying and failing to find and deal with spetsnaz team operating in the area only to discover that the team in question was detected, cornered and apprehended by a ‘chemist’, solo, without a single shot.
Moral of the story: Chemical soldiers are scary soldiers, they just hide it well.
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