Before finance and personnel services battalions were taken out of the inventory as part of the Army’s modularity transformation in fiscal year 2012, the only battalion these officers could compete to command for were in the immaterial special troops battalion operations, recruiting and training battalions in the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
Lt. Col. Angelia Holbrook, commander of 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, is the first AG officer selected to command in a finance or AG-coded position. She took command in January 2012.
“I believe AG and finance officers have all the right skill sets to succeed in command of (special troops battalions) in sustainment brigades and can attest to that from my first-hand experience,” said Col. Mark Simerly, commander of 4th Sustainment Brigade. “While it is very helpful to have their functional experience in leading the human resources and finance units in the brigade, I believe that we can also expect AG and (finance) (special troops battalion) commanders to have the entire core competencies required to accomplish the challenging requirements of a battalion command.”
“I believe good leaders should be allowed to command regardless of branch,” said Capt. Rock Aaron Stevens, commander of the battalion’s 207th Signal Company.
When Holbrook found out about her selection, the commandant of the AG School at the time called her in to congratulate her. “Now don’t screw this up Holbrook, because you are the first one. If you screw up, the folks behind you won’t get the chance,” Holbrook recalled.
Holbrook commands about 1,450 soldiers divided among a headquarters and headquarters company, a signal company, a financial management company, three truck companies and four movement control teams.
Because of the Army’s modular structure, her companies and the companies of her fellow battalion commanders in the sustainment brigade deploy independently.
Stevens said he thinks some of the challenges of a special troops battalion command comes from the fact that “none of the companies have the same mission and (the) commander must find a way to leverage the unique capabilities of each company to build a cohesive team.”
Holbrook had the opportunity to hold the same or similar jobs that multifunctional logisticians do as they go through their officer career progression, such as company commander, battalion executive officer or maintenance officer. She also had the chance to do strength management and the typical human resources jobs. She held these positions with various types of units at the tactical, operational and strategic level.
“Her understanding of human resource administration at the Army level based upon her time at Human Resources Command and as a (human resources officer) has been a tremendous asset,” Simerly said. “Angie immediately established herself as the subject matter expert on all human resource matters in the brigade and her leadership of our human resources company significantly improved our ability to provide human resources support at Fort Hood and in deployed settings. Of course, she has been an outstanding source of personnel and administrative advice for all leaders in the brigade, myself included.”
If Holbrook did not get this command position, she said she would probably be sitting in a cubicle at Human Resource Command, managing a branch.
“Command is a great privilege; it is a heavy privilege,” she said.
Holbrook said the Army does not yet have plans to open up sustainment brigade commands to AG or finance officers, but she hopes to see that happen soon.
“It was a big leap for the logisticians to open 16 billets ... but you can understand, if you want to grow this population of officers to command these types of units you have to bring them through certain gates,” Holbrook said. “I do believe that perhaps a portion of the sustainment brigades one day should be commanded by a finance or AG officer. There are five stars on the (U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command) patch; AG and finance are two of them.”