NEWS FROM THE FRONT
Andrew Olmsted reproduces and comments on an after action review from a squadron commander in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq. Some interesting stuff, although quite laden with jargon that will be unfamiliar to those without military backgrounds.
A short glossary:
Squadron: Cav talk for “battalion.”
Cav/Cavalry: No, they don’t have horses. Indeed, this is more a “state of mind” than a real branch. Some light armor and aviation branch–and, indeed, some artillery–units consider themselves to be part of the lineage of the horse cavalry because of their speed. They affect some of the heraldry of the old cav by wearing Stetson hats and yellow scarves and such with their dress uniforms.
The S’s–these are the battalion staff officers. The same nomenclature applies to division (G-) and joint command (J-) level staffs.
S-1: Adjutant The guy in charge of personnel matters such as awards, promotion, leave, staff duty assignments, and the like. Usually a mediocre captain or an excellent first lieutenant.
S-2: Intelligence At batallion level, not a professional M.I. branch officer but a lieutenant or senior NCO who is in charge of disseminating intel from higher headquarters, maintaining security clearances, and various aspects of physical security.
S-3: Operations The most coveted and important of the staff jobs. Either a very senior captain or a junior major who has already commanded a company-sized unit. Responsible to managing the unit’s training schedule and for planning combat operations.
S-4: Supply. Generally, this is a very junior captain who hasn’t commanded yet and who probably doesn’t know much about supply. Like the S-1, he’s not a professional Quartmaster branch officer but rather a combat arms guy from the same branch as the unit specialty (i.e., infantry, artillery, or armor) who’s filling a slot until he can get a real job–command. He’s usually got a warrant officer who is a professional QM guy that serves as the property book officer to advise him.
(via e-mail from Joe Katzman)
Update (1154): See the discussion in the comments section. Andrew takes exception to some of my comments, which are based on my particular experience. The danger of drawing from one’s own dated experience is that 1) it was anomolous or 2) that things have changed over the years.
Also, just to add to the confusion, there are more “numbers” on the higher staffs.
J-5: Strategic Plans and Policy
J-6: Command, Control, Communications, and Computer Systems
J-7: Operational Plans and Joint Force Development
J-8: Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment
J-9: Joint Experimentation
(These seem subject to change, as I’ve seen variations. These are from the JCS site.)