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Appendix C

Staff Organization and Staff Officers

This appendix describes the foundations of battalion- through corps-level staff organizations. The Army uses standardized staff organizations to benefit from consistency in performance, responsibilities (regardless of unit type or echelon), training, and resources. This appendix also addresses the basic Army staff structure, staff models for large and small units, and characteristics of staff officers.

Basis for Staff Organizations
Factors Affecting Staff Organizations
Authorization for Staff Organizations
Basic Staff Structures
  Coordinating Staff Group
  Special Staff Group
  Personal Staff Group
Staff Models
  Major Commands (Corps and Division)
    (G Staffs)
  Smaller Units (Regiments, Brigades,
    and Battalions) (S Staffs)
Characteristics of a Staff Officer
  Team Player
  Effective Manager
  Effective Communicator



C-1. Military staffs are organized based on three considerations:

  • Mission.
  • Broad fields of interest (functional responsibilities).
  • Regulations and laws.

C-2. The mission determines which activities to accomplish. These activities determine how commanders organize, tailor, or adapt their individual staffs to accomplish the mission. The mission also determines the size and composition of the staff.

C-3. Regardless of mission, every Army staff has common broad fields of interest that determine how the commander divides duties and responsibilities. The duties and responsibilities inherent in a field of interest are called functional responsibilities. Grouping related activities allows an effective span of control and unified effort. Fields of interest may vary slightly, depending on the echelon of command, mission, and environment. For example, at battalion level there is no resource manager, while certain logistic units combine the intelligence and operations functions. Common fields of interest and the abbreviations for the staff sections to which they are assigned are-

  • Personnel (G-1/AG [S-1]).
  • Intelligence (G-2 [S-2]).
  • Operations and training (G-3 [S-3]).
  • Logistics (G-4 [S-4]).
  • Civil-military operations (G-5 [S-5]).
  • Command, control, communications, and computer operations (C4OPS) (G-6 [S-6]).
  • Information operations officer (G-7 [S-7]) (corps, divisions, and selected brigades only).
  • Resource management (RM).

The commanding officer's rank determines whether the staff is a G staff or an S staff. Organizations commanded by generals have G staffs. Other organizations have S staffs.

C-4. Army regulations and laws establish special relationships between certain staff officers and the commander. For example, AR 20-1, AR 27-1, and AR 165-1 require the inspector general (IG), staff judge advocate (SJA), and chaplain to be members of the commander's personal staff.



C-5. Commanders use their professional knowledge, experience, and leadership style to organize their individual staffs. Several factors influence staff organization:

  • Size and diversity of responsibilities.
  • Local (distinct) requirements.
  • Amount of relevant information (RI) each section manages.
  • Availability, qualifications, and performance of personnel.
  • Organization and locations of command posts (CPs).
  • Mobility requirements.
  • Requirements for 24-hour operations and security.
  • Ability to combine related activities.
  • Desired span of control.
  • Preferences of the commander and chief of staff.



C-6. Every organization and activity requires an authorization document that states a unit's approved structure and resources. (See FM 100-11.) It is the basis and authority for personnel assignments and equipment requisitions. This document is a modification table of organization and equipment (MTOE), a table of distribution and allowances (TDA), or a combination of both.

C-7. A table of organization and equipment (TOE) is a standard authorization document that prescribes organizational structure, personnel, and equipment requirements of a military unit. Commanders establish wartime authorizations by developing an MTOE from the TOE for their individual units. Commanders prescribe in more detail organization, personnel, and equipment to be authorized to accomplish doctrinal missions in specific operational or geographical environments, or at specific points on a modernization path. Commanders can change their individual MTOEs with Department of the Army approval.

C-8. TDAs prescribe organizational structures for units with support missions or functions where no TOE exists. They may include civilian positions. TDAs are unique authorization documents. They help staffs attain the most efficient operational capability possible-using the command's force-structure manpower spaces-to accomplish specific missions and functions. Types of TDAs include mobilization, augmentation, and full-time support.



C-9. Staffs at every echelon are structured differently; however, all staffs are similar. The basic staff structure includes a chief of staff (COS) or executive officer (XO), and three staff groups: coordinating, special, and personal. (See figure C-1.) The number of coordinating, special, and personal staff officers within each staff group varies at different levels of command. Commanders may integrate TDA staffs with MTOE staffs to promote unity of effort and save resources.

Figure C-1. Basic Staff Structure

Figure C-1. Basic Staff Structure


C-10. The COS (XO) is the commander's principal staff officer. He directs staff tasks, oversees staff coordination, and ensures efficient and prompt staff actions. The COS oversees coordinating and special staff officers. He does not necessarily oversee the personal staff officers, although he normally interacts with them. The commander normally delegates authority to the COS for executive management of coordinating and special staff officers.



C-11. Coordinating staff officers are the commander's principal staff assistants. They are directly accountable to the COS (XO). They have functional responsibilities over one or a combination of fields of interest. (See appendix D.) Collectively, through the COS (XO), coordinating staff officers are accountable to their commander for all their responsibilities. The staff is not accountable for fields of interest the commander decides to control personally.

C-12. Commanders may designate coordinating staff officers as assistant chiefs of staff, deputy chiefs of staff, directors, or regular staff officers. These positions generally reflect the degree of authority the commander delegates to them and the scope and complexity of operations conducted by the command. However, commanders establish a staff officer's actual authority if it is not inherent in the position's title.

C-13. Coordinating staff officers' authority is limited to advising, planning, and coordinating actions within their individual fields of interest. They also exercise planning and supervisory authority over designated special staff officers. (See appendix D.) Commanders may also delegate to coordinating staff officers additional authority to act on specific matters within the staff officer's field of interest.

C-14. Directors have both staff and line authority. For example, directors of logistic operations might be responsible for operating support activities in addition to their normal responsibilities. Typically, commanders delegate to directors significant responsibility for specific functions and the authority necessary to accomplish them.

C-15. Normally, coordinating staff officers have a direct interest in other staff officers' fields of interest. Clearly defined staff responsibilities are necessary to facilitate coordination and eliminate conflict. Unit standing operating procedures (SOPs) or organization and functions manuals contain procedures that specify primary responsibilities and coordination requirements.

C-16. Coordinating staff officers are responsible for collecting information and analyzing its implications and impact on the command. More important, coordinating staff officers provide timely and accurate recommendations to their individual commanders to help them make the best possible decisions. While doing so, they often request and receive information and recommendations from special staff officers. They also inform other coordinating staff officers, as required.



C-17. Special staff officers help commanders and other staff members perform their functional responsibilities. (See figure C-2.) The number of special staff officers and their duties vary with the level of command. Special staff sections are organized according to professional or technical responsibilities. For example, the fire support coordinator (FSCOORD) is the staff officer responsible for fire support. In some cases, special staff officers command units. For example, the division FSCOORD is normally the division artillery commander.

C-18. The commander delegates planning and supervisory authority over each special staff function to a coordinating staff officer. Although special staff sections may not be integral to a coordinating staff section, there are usually areas of common interest and habitual association. For example, a division G-3 coordinates matters relating to fires with the FSCOORD, engineer coordinator (ENCOORD), Marine liaison team (MLT) commander, aviation coordinator (AVCOORD), and air liaison officer (ALO).

C-19. Special staff officers usually deal routinely with more than one coordinating staff officer. For example, the provost marshal (PM) usually functions under the G-3, but coordinates with the G-1, G-2, G-4, G-5, and G-7.

Figure C-2. Basic Corps or Division Staff Structure

Figure C-2. Basic Corps or Division Staff Structure



C-20. Personal staff members work under the commander's immediate control. They also may serve as special staff officers when they coordinate with other staff members. When performing their duties as special staff officers, personal staff officers may work through the COS (XO) and under a coordinating staff officer for coordination and control purposes. Members of the personal staff include-

  • Personal assistants, such as aides-de-camp.
  • Personnel the commander desires to supervise directly.
  • Personnel who, by law or regulation, have a special relationship to the commander.



C-21. Army staff organizations at the battalion through corps levels follow the same organizational model. (See figure C-1.) Commanders tailor their individual staffs to meet their specific needs.



C-22. Figure C-2 shows the typical staff organization for a corps or division. The staff of a major command has each of the major staff groups: coordinating, special, and personal. In corps and divisions, deputy or assistant commanders extend the commander's span of control over areas and functions the commander designates. (See paragraphs 5-25-5-28.)



C-23. Figure C-3 depicts a typical smaller-unit staff structure. Smaller-unit staffs generally perform the same functions as larger staffs. However, the operational nature of smaller units sometimes requires modifications. For example, staff activities (such as, advising, planning, coordinating, and supervising) are more informal at lower levels. Often supporting unit commanders-for example, the engineer battalion commander at maneuver brigade level-serve as special staff officers for their individual fields of interest.

Figure C-3. Basic Smaller-unit Staff Structure (Brigade and Battalion)

Figure C-3. Basic Smaller-unit Staff Structure (Brigade and Battalion)


C-24. In combat service support units, commanders usually combine the S-2 and S-3 sections, and add a support operations section. Like a personal or special staff officer, the support operations officer works directly for the commander and is responsible for external support of the unit's mission. There may also be other coordinating staff officers, depending on the command's mission. Commanders may form other staff sections when Department of the Army or the Army service component commander authorizes. In units where the TOE or TDA does not authorize an S-5, commanders assign responsibility for civil-military operations functions to another coordinating staff officer (usually the S-3). In brigades and battalions not authorized a specific special staff officer, commanders assign responsibility for those functions to another staff officer as required.



C-25. This section describes the characteristics required of staff officers at every echelon, from battalion through corps. Most officers serve in a variety of staff positions throughout their careers. Although much of what staff officers do is not noticed, their competence is crucial in all that the Army accomplishes.

C-26. Commanders always retain the ultimate responsibility for final decisions. Staff officers contribute to achieving the commander's intent by fulfilling their functional responsibilities within the authority the commander delegates to them. Effective staff officers provide commanders with correct and timely relevant information (RI) and well-analyzed recommendations.

C-27. FM 22-100 discusses the values, attributes, skills, and actions expected of all leaders. As Army leaders, staff officers are expected to possess and develop those characteristics; however, staff work requires specialized applications of them. A good staff officer demonstrates the following:

  • Competence.
  • Initiative.
  • Creativity.
  • Flexibility.
  • Confidence.
  • Loyalty.
  • Team player.
  • Effective manager.
  • Effective communicator.

This list provides a basis for counseling and professional development sessions on what commanders expect of staff officers.



C-28. Effective staff officers are competent in all aspects of their functional responsibilities and know their duties. They are familiar enough with the duties of other staff members to accomplish vertical and lateral coordination. Commanders expect staff officers to analyze each problem and know-not guess at-the correct answer before making a recommendation. Staff officers must possess the moral courage to admit when they do not know something.



C-29. Staff officers exercise subordinates' initiative. They anticipate requirements rather than waiting for taskings. They do not wait for orders. They anticipate what the commander needs to accomplish the mission and prepare answers to those questions before they are asked. Effective staff officers know the commanders' intent two levels up and operate within their own commanders' intent. They do not hesitate to take advantage of opportunities. In the commander's absence, they exercise the authority delegated to them to achieve the commander's intent. When exercising subordinates' initiative, staff officers report their actions to the commander as soon as possible.



C-30. Commanders are always looking for new and innovative solutions to problems. Thus, effective staff officers are creative in researching solutions to difficult and unfamiliar situations. If they cannot recommend a course of action (COA) in one direction or area, they find an alternative. As team players, staff officers draw on the creativity of all staff and command members. Staff officers brief solutions, not problems. They always give the commander a recommended COA.



C-31. Staff officers require the maturity and presence of mind to keep from becoming overwhelmed or frustrated by changing requirements and priorities. Commanders often change their minds or redirect the command after receiving additional information or a new mission. They may not share with the staff the reason for such a change. Staff officers remain flexible and adjust to any changes. They master setting priorities when there are more tasks to accomplish than time allows. They learn to juggle multiple commitments simultaneously. It is essential that staff officers meet suspenses; the commander and other staff members depend on their contributions to decisionmaking. Staff officers meet suspenses or request a time or priority adjustment in advance.



C-32. Staff officers possess mental discipline and self-confidence. They understand that all staff work serves the commander, even if the commander rejects the resulting recommendation. Staff officers do not give a "half effort" when they think the commander will disagree with their recommendations. Effective staff work helps commanders make the best possible decisions.

C-33. Staff officers develop multiple sides of an issue. They do not bias the evaluation criteria in favor of any COA. Staff officers give the commander an unbiased look at a problem and recommend the best possible solution.

C-34. Staff officers understand that a five-minute answer for the commander may require ten hours of staff work. Spending that much time may not appear worth the return. This is not true. In-depth research by staff officers relieves commanders of that task; it allows them to focus on the overall operation. Further, the knowledge staff officers develop for the commander is a form of professional development. It gives them experience upon which to base future decisions as staff officers and commanders. During a crisis, this knowledge of what works provides the basis for the self-confidence that underlies subordinates' initiative.



C-35. Staff officers are loyal to the commander and the soldiers of the command. This means staff officers tell the commander what they believe, not what the commander wants to hear. Staff officers require moral courage. They must be willing to tell the commander both good and bad news. Any staff work eventually affects soldiers, who must execute staff officer recommendations approved by the commander. Staff officers never forget that their recommendations affect soldiers.



C-36. Staff officers are team players. They cannot complete staff actions and staff work in a vacuum. They must advise, consult, and cooperate with others. They are prepared to represent another's decisions and to sacrifice individual interests when the overall good requires it. Staff officers maintain a pleasant disposition. This practices contributes to effective cooperation and coordination.



C-37. Good staff officers effectively manage time and resources. Time is always critical. Staff officers consider not only their own time, but that of other staff members and subordinate units as well. Staff officers recognize that not all projects can be the highest or second highest priority. They set reasonable suspenses that allow completion of lower priority (but nonetheless important) projects.

C-38. Staff officers are good stewards of resources (people, environment, and money) the Nation entrusts to their care. They are diligent in efforts to efficiently manage these resources and preserve the environment. They avoid waste, destruction, and duplication of effort.



C-39. Effective communication is crucial for staff officers. They must be able to clearly articulate and effectively present information orally, in writing, and visually (with charts and graphs). Staff officers routinely brief individuals and groups. They know and understand briefing techniques that convey complex information in easily understood formats. They can write clear and concise orders and plans, staff studies, staff summaries, and reports. (See FM 5-0.)

C-40. Efficient staff officers use current computer technology. This includes being able to produce visual briefing aids-such as, charts, graphs, slides, and multimedia products. They are proficient in using computer technology-such as, word processing, electronic mail, and other available resources-to manage time and to solve problems.

C-41. Staff officers frequently prepare briefings and written documents for the commander or higher staff officers. They prepare these products as if they are going to sign them or brief them personally.


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