People, equipment, and information. Anytime a task or mission comes down, I can quickly summarize it into:
“No later than [DATE], send [PEOPLE/EQPT/INFO] to [PERSON/PLACE]. Uniform is [UNIFORM]. Point of contact is [PERSON].”
The job of an operations officer is take orders from higher and translate them into orders to lower. When I serve as an operations officer, I make sure to write all my tasks that clearly and succinctly.
LAND, LABOR, CAPITAL
There’s always more to each task but for the most part: people, equipment, and information. More broadly though, I’d say land, people, equipment, and information – not unlike the economic factors of supply (land, labor, capital, and information). For training, we need to reserve training sites, the land.
I’ve never served in command. I’ve been a staff officer my whole Army career. When I was a Marine, my last job consisted of serving as a Platoon Sergeant for about 30 personnel and for 37 months. As I did then, I play a role in managing and organizing people and equipment to get work done.
I suppose generally speaking, all work does just that. In practice, there’s not a lot of routine in my job. It does, however, exhibit patters, and that’s one of them.
WHEN, WHERE, WHAT UNIFORM NEXT
At the end of the workday, when as a Platoon Sergeant, I made sure to hold a quick formation ending with me quizzing my Marines on when, where, and what uniform next. I made sure they knew to anticipate the next couple workdays out. As a result, they felt more confident in organizing their time.
DUMPSTERS AND LATRINES
In one episode of The Shield (a TV series from early 2000), one of our anti-hero LAPD officers seeks help on beating a polygraph by going to an Army counter-intel veteran. He discusses the plan with another officer, played by Michael Peña, who says, paraphrased, “What? Army intel! That just means he brought extra batteries to the field!”
On this game show recently that I was watching with my daughter, one of the participants described himself as a ceramics sanitation engineer… meaning, he washes dishes.
When I served as a logistics officer in my last unit, I had 14 additional duties on top of my primary duty of logistics officer. My biggest tasks specific to my primary duty as the battalion logistics officer, or S4, consisted of making sure we had dumpsters and latrines when we went to the field (unit training).
Food and water is largely a company-level issue. Land and ammo belongs to the operations section, or S3. Transportation, depending on the reason, belongs to S3 or to SPO (support [to external units] operations) or at company-level.
So when we went to the field, as the logistics officer, I made sure to order the dumpsters and latrines.
I had countless other things I also did, like coordinate with the higher-level finance office, manage the government purchase card, inspect the company-level supply discipline programs, reserve the occasional barracks (also called billeting) at the field, but dumpsters and latrines were toward the top.