I remember stumbling upon the now re-appropriated companycommand.com many years ago when I was still enlisted. I must have been searching for something Army-related, and found myself on the site. I remember quickly closing the window in the same way you would if you accidentally clicked a “link too far” and found yourself on a website you really ought not to be looking. The gleaming silver bars on the page spooked me, reminding me of the seemingly omnipotent officers I knew in the 82nd Airborne Division. The thought of chatting with one or being in any way associated with a bunch of Captains – COMMANDERS – was terrifying to my younger, non-commissioned officer self.
I knew that the site existed though, as a resource for officers, at a time when social media was just budding and internet forums were intimidating and reigned supreme.
Fast forward to today, and the site still exists (although now in a more official capacity). But there’s also Company Command’s younger brother, Platoon Leader, which exists both in an official capacity (CAC required) and an easier to access, unofficial capacity.
The sites are great resources for junior leaders managed by a dedicated team of Army officers who aim to create a space to share ideas. It’s the same team behind the Company Commander and Platoon Leader blog on Medium which kindly published my article on the problems Lieutenants face when they write (as an aside, you should seriously consider writing for them as well).
Unfortunately, the sites are severely underutilized.
Part of this is due to the difficulty it is in getting to the “full” site which requires a CAC login, milSuite registration, and then a submission to join the forum. There have been a few times that I can remember having the time at work to browse through the CAC site uninterrupted – there’s always something going on. For most junior officers, that means their prime time to explore the site will be when they’re at home and off work, which makes the likelihood of making a successful “hook up” low, especially, if like me, you have a Mac.
However, the seemingly unscalable technological wall is actually quite scalable. It usually just takes an hour or two of dedicated, uninterrupted time and a large cup of coffee. Once done, you’re in.
Thankfully, there’s a non-CAC version of the forums that simply requires a username and password to join. Whatever the question is, there’s an answer out there. There are few new problems facing junior leaders today, and even the new ones are being faced by more than one of us. The forums provide a space for junior leaders to have those conversations outside of regular social media, where the replies are more likely to be snarky than helpful.
BLAB (Bottom Line at Bottom): Basically, if you’re a junior officer, you should sign up.