April 10, 2014
By Mrs. Melissa K Buckley (Leonard Wood)
Fort Leonard Wood executive and operations officers new to the installation have a course to better prepare them for their duties.
What is now the XO/S-3 Course began two years ago as an orientation for executive officers.
"Now, we've transformed it to the Fort Leonard Wood XO/S-3 Course and execute it every six months for company, battalion, brigade executive officers and battalion, brigade operations officers," said Lt. Col. T.J. Atkins, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence G-3 Command and Training Initiatives staff. "Typically, we tailor the instruction at the company and battalion level where the rubber meets the road for so many of our missions training Soldiers and supporting units."
Lt. Col. Scott Preston, 1st Engineer Brigade, deputy commanding officer, served as the senior mentor for the two-day course conducted April 3 and Friday.
"The Fort Leonard Wood XO/S-3 course doesn't necessarily teach the officers how to be good S-3s and XOs, but it does introduce them to people and agencies across the post who can make their job easier. Understanding what each agency does and the assistance they provide, will make these officers better at their jobs," Preston said.
The executive officer is in charge of the unit's administrative operations and is usually the second-in-command.
Executive officers often start at the company level, which has 110 to 140 Soldiers, but can move up as a field grade officer to the brigade level, which has 3,000 to 5,000 Soldiers.
"The XO is the commander's principal assistant. He or she frees the commander from routine details of staff operations and the management of the unit. This is a critical position, because it allows the commander to command his or her organization and provide focus where needed while the XO handles the day-to-day operations," Preston said.
He said a successful executive officer is someone who is good at solving problems.
"An XO spends most of their day dealing with subordinates and staff issues. Being able to quickly receive the information and redirect the subordinate towards a solution is a great skill," Preston said.
The S-3, or operations officer, is in charge of operational planning and training at the battalion and brigade level.
"The S-3 is the primary staff officer for integrating and synchronizing the operation as a whole for the commander. The S-3 normally focuses efforts in three areas: managing and tracking current operations; conducting, preparing and maintaining unit training; and planning for future operations," Preston said.
He said a good S-3 is someone who can continue to look into the future and not get bogged down on the current situation.
"Good S3s are able to continue to plan future operations while still maintaining situational awareness of the current operation," Preston said.
The first day of the course is spent in the classroom listening to different subject matter experts.
"The Fort Leonard Wood XO/S-3 Course is instructed by the great Department of the Army civilians and Soldiers from across the many organizations and units on the fort," Atkins said.
Topics covered were inspector general functions, property accountability, ammunition management, maintenance management, supply and services, defense military pay office, and the 43rd Adjutant General Battalion.
First Lt. Sutton Ward, Company E, 795th Military Police Battalion, 14th Military Police Brigade executive officer, said the speakers from the Reception Holding Unit and Fitness Training Unit at the 43rd Adjutant General Battalion were the most useful to him.
"They straightened out the rumors about what they do. We use them a lot within One Station Unit Training," Ward said.
Participants also received a tour of the TACOM and Logistics Readiness Center maintenance facility and the Ammunition Supply Point.
Ward has only been on Fort Leonard Wood for about 90 days.
"Coming from Korea, everything is done different here. I've learned how Fort Leonard Wood operates and how to use it to my advantage," Ward said. "I hope they keep this course. It's a good introduction for somebody who is new to the XO position. It allows us to set our commanders up for success."
The MSCoE G-3 Command and Training Initiatives staff coordinates the program. The next Fort Leonard Wood XO/S-3 Course is currently being planned for October.