Military Staff Duties

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Most medium-sized military units have a staff of officers responsible for maintenance, planning and administrative operations.For ground and air forces, these are usually battalion and squadron level and above. For naval forces, each ship has its own staff. Each military staff duty is designated by the letter "S" and a number. Almost all command staff have S1, S2, S3, and S4 officers. Some special staff officers do not have an "S" designation. Officers can move from one staff position to another, which provides experience when they move on to the position of executive officer (XO) and, finally, commanding officer (CO).

Personnel and Administration (S1)

  • The S1 staff officer serves as the commander's adjutant. He or she oversees the commander's schedule, reviews correspondence and schedules leave times for important personnel. S1s also supervise social activities and ceremonies within the unit and are responsible for knowing the status of single parent and married soldiers.

Intelligence and Security (S2)

  • S2s are responsible for planning intelligence collection operations and providing reports and briefings on intelligence and security issues to the commanding and staff officers. In some battalions, they are also responsible for intelligence information databases. They also are charged with implementing unit physical security plans.

Operations (S3)

  • While in garrison, or stationed at home base, S3 officers must plan, conduct and evaluate training exercises. They also develop plans and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for future deployments. When the unit does deploy, the S3 is responsible for developing specific mission plans and conducting After Action Reviews.

Logistics (S4)

  • The S4 officer has the responsibility of developing the unit's logistical plans; that is, they determine which supplies and equipment are needed and they make arrangements to have them driven or flown in as necessary. The S4 also oversees maintenance sections and platoons and ensures that repair operations take place in a timely manner and that preventive maintenance is performed by non-maintenance personnel.

Fire Support Officer

  • Fire Support Officers (FSOs), are generally assigned to the military staff of a combat arms unit such as infantry or artillery. They advise unit commanders of how field artillery support can assist ground units during a mission. The FSO also trains soldiers in mortar weapons use.

Engineer

  • Engineer officers are often attached to light combat battalions. These units require increased mobility, and the engineer officer provides this by removing obstacles from the path of friendly forces and impeding the mobility of enemy forces. Engineer officers command engineer platoons that can build unit defenses and, when necessary, fight as infantry forces.

Air Defense Artillery

  • Unit protection from air attacks is the duty of Air Defense Artillery (ADA) officers. They command sections of Stinger, Vulcan and Avenger missile systems. These weapons are essentially mobile rocket launchers that can engage incoming aircraft, missiles and mortars.

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