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What is an Army Officer?

First and foremost, an Army
officer is a leader. The officer
plans the work of the
organization, assigns tasks to
subordinates, and sees that the
work is accomplished to the
highest standard. In that regard,
an Army officer is similar to a
manager in a corporation. But
that is where any comparison to
the corporate world ends.
Officers lead by example. An
officer must be willing to
personally undertake any task
that is assigned to a soldier.
Even the most junior officer
routinely has forty or more
soldiers working directly under
his or her control. In the
corporate world it could take
decades for an individual to
achieve that level of
The level of integrity and
personal conduct required of an
officer are quite high --- with
very good reason. Officers daily
make decisions that involve
millions of dollars of resources.
Their judgment and skill can
mean the difference between
life and death for the soldiers
they command.
Over the years, three words
have become the hallmark of
what it is to be an Army Officer.
Those words are Duty, Honor and
Country. No matter what their
specific duties are, or where
they serve, these three words
embody what it is to be an Army
Career Progression
An Army officer's career is
generally a series of 2 and 3 year
assignments, each one preparing
you for the next. Personal
abilities and preferences affect
the choices a person makes, so
there is no one career blueprint.
There is, however, a general
progression most officers'
careers follow.
The Lieutenant Phase
Once a cadet graduates, he/she
is commissioned as a Second
Lieutenant. The first thing a
young officer does is develop in
his/her primary branch by
attending the Basic Course. After
that, some officers opt for
Airborne or Ranger training (or
both). But most go right to their
first duty assignment.
Progressing from second to
first Lieutenant, the young
officer applies his/her training
and develops his/her leadership
abilities. In fact, learning how to
lead troops is the key objective
of this phase. Promotion to First
Lieutenant takes about two
The Captain Phase
A lot happens while you're a
captain. The most important
thing is to get experience as a
company commander. A
Company Commander is normally
in charge of over 100 soldiers.
Command experience, obviously,
is a valuable resource
throughout a career. During this
phase, you attend the Officer
Advanced Course. Later in this
phase, you will attend the
Combined Arms and Services
Staff School (CAS3), which
provides you with the necessary
training to perform as a field
grade staff officer. Additional
training during the captain phase
is your opportunity to become
more valuable to the Army, since
this is when you choose and
begin to become qualified in a
functional area. Promotion to
Captain takes about four years.
The Major Phase
Being promoted to major signals
a big step in your career. You've
become a key staff officer in
charge of such areas as
Personnel, Intelligence,
Operations, or Logistics. You'll be
given new assignments which
permit you to use previously
developed skills, as well as
expand your overall professional
development. The objective here
is to develop further in your
branch, and continue
development in your functional
area. Some officers area
selected for Command and
General Staff College or given the
opportunity to attend civilian
schools. Promotion to Major
takes about 11 years.
The Lieutenant Colonel Phase
Your assignment might be as a
Battalion Commander in charge
of hundreds of soldiers or a
general staff officer in a division
or corps. Outstanding
performance will merit more and
more challenging positions. Some
officers are selected for the
Army War College, where they
become "experts" at their
profession. Promotion to
Lieutenant Colonel takes about
17 years.
The Colonel Phase
At this phase, the Army takes
maximum advantage of your
talents. This means you'll be
assigned as a Brigade
Commander in charge of
thousands of soldiers or director
of a large staff. Your technical
skills and accumulated executive
talents will be put to the test.
This is the senior level of
responsibility. You're a top
executive. Promotion to Colonel
takes about 22 years.
General Officer
Officers who demonstrate
extraordinary leadership and
executive abilities are selected
to become general officers; the
CEO's of the Army. They do
nothing less than run the Army.
From division commanders to
post commanders to high level
staff positions, general officers
are responsible for maintaining
an efficient and effective Army.
Promotion to General takes
about 25 years.

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