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How The U.S. Army Works June 22, 2008

Posted by Michael in Heroes, Man Laws, Personal Experiences.

My wife really likes the Army. She worked as a chaplain at Brooke Army Medical Center, and she kinda got into Army culture. So this post by Xbradtc interested me:

Most people don’t have a very good idea how the Army is organized. Given that the Army uses a jargon to designate units, this is pretty understandable.

Actually, Brad, jargon is not the problem. Most people just don’t give a shit. But I’m listening.

Mostly, the Army is organized under “The Rule of Three to Five”. The concept behind the rule is “span of control”. Typically, a leader can only effectively lead three to five subordinate units. Any more than that and control becomes problematic. It is just too hard to keep track of things. Various units are organized in different ways, but for our example, we’ll use my first unit, a light infantry division in the mid 80’s.

Hey, this sounds like my company.

You can learn much more about fire teams, squads, platoons and brigades here.

And here is some more information about typical Army life.


1. xbradtc - June 22, 2008

Thanks for the solid. I’m guessing she’s one of the civilians that helps out. Truly doing God’s work.

2. Michael - June 22, 2008

Yeah, she truly was doing God’s work. The BAMC burn unit, emergency room, and cancer ward are pretty tough territory.

People meet Cathy and they think she is just a social and pleasant suburban housewife. They are so wrong.

3. BrewFan - June 22, 2008

“How the U.S. Army Works” might be considered an oxymoron 🙂

Been there, done that, got the shirt, olive drab, 1 each

4. daveintexas - June 22, 2008

I’m one of those military type geeks who grooves on studying a combat unit’s TOE (Table of Organization and Equipment).

Here is a simplified Mech Infantry Division sample


I know. I’m weird like that.

5. xbradtc - June 22, 2008

DinT, I’m working my way up from the lowest level.

Divisions are pretty simple when you look at the org chart. Where they get complicated is in the Task Organization area.

When I went to ODS, I was in TF 7-6IN, Team D/1-37AR, PLT 1/A/7-6IN.

That’s a Bradley Platoon, attached to a tank company, attached to a Bradley Battalion that had swapped two companies with an Armor Battalion. Frankly, for a while there, I didn’t know where the hell I was. And don’t get me started on the all the oddball cats and dogs like FO’s, FISTers, ALOs, FACs, GSRs, and duckhunters.

6. daveintexas - June 22, 2008

Talk about the Cav orgs.

Even funnier. “Troops”.

7. BrewFan - June 22, 2008

My brother was in the 7th Armored Squadron, 1st Air Cav. He had one of those hats like Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore wore.

8. Lipstick - June 22, 2008

I once watched “F-Troop”.

9. xbradtc - June 22, 2008

Well, it depends if you wanna org chart for a Div Cav Sqn, an ACR, or the 1st Cav, that has Cavalry Bns, and companies. It gets a little squirrely there.

10. xbradtc - June 22, 2008

Charlie don’t surf.

11. xbradtc - June 22, 2008

And don’t get me started on the time my infantry company had a Cav Scout as First Sergeant. Oh, the shame…

12. BrewFan - June 22, 2008


What the hell do you know about surfing? You’re from goddamned New Jersey.

*queues up Ride of the Valkyries*

13. Vmaximus - June 22, 2008

My fishing buddy was a tow gunner in dog co 10worst infantry (as he would say) When he wasn’t tdy on the army rifle team.

14. xbradtc - June 22, 2008

D Co, Weps, ATCo, E Co. (in H-Series TOEs) it’s all good.

The guys at the AMU in Benning are incredible.

15. eddiebear - June 22, 2008

And when you get into the “Queen of the Battle”, you start talking about Batteries. That gets interesting.

16. xbradtc - June 22, 2008

“King of Battle”, Eddie, Infantry is Queen of Battle because she can go anywhere on the board.

17. eddiebear - June 22, 2008


My bad. I was just a dumb 57E officer.

18. eddiebear - June 22, 2008

^and to make it even “better”, I was attached to a QM Company.

19. xbradtc - June 22, 2008

L&S? How’d my buttons always get broken, anyway?

20. Vmaximus - June 22, 2008

eddiebear, are you going to make me google 57e?

21. eddiebear - June 22, 2008

^No. I was the OIC for a portable shower and laundry unit.

But it did teach me the value of logistics, and how to get stuff from here to there and up and running.

I also learned the value of keeping equipment up and running.

22. Vmaximus - June 22, 2008

the only thing I could find at goarmy.com close was 56 Chaplin.
And google gave me martin b57 and canberra b57 so I gave up

23. xbradtc - June 22, 2008

Here’s weird for you. I spent six months as a 76something-or-other in a support Battalion.

24. eddiebear - June 22, 2008

^my time ended in 1998, and, honestly, I haven’t bothered to look since then.

25. eddiebear - June 22, 2008

Just to clarify, my comment was for VMax.

26. Vmaximus - June 22, 2008

I got you eddiebear, thanks

27. Vmaximus - June 22, 2008

And it takes all kinds don’t it?
If I went in now I would be a good 21e, I have 20 yrs in engineering. But I am too old now, and when I was younger I laughed at the pay.
I regret not serving now, but it is too late.

28. eddiebear - June 22, 2008

My brother started out of ROTC as a Chem/Bio officer, who then found himself attached to the Big Red One as a Battle Captain. He was so bored sitting in an office watching the battle unfold from UAVs and the like, so he volunteered upon his promotion to 1LT, to ride along with the door-kickers. He acquitted himself so well, and was so respected by the NCOs under him, he recently was promoted to CPT and offered a Company Commander position and the promised fast track to Major, should he decide to stay in.

29. Vmaximus - June 22, 2008

That is awesome!
I hope he makes Flag

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