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An infantry squad leader position is a job within the leadership chain of command in both U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) infantry units. Infantry squad leaders in both of these branches of the military perform a variety of duties, many specific to the actual position; others are directed by others or are an implied part of the leader's position. Squad leaders are mainly responsible for the performance of the infantry fire teams assigned to their squads.
Composition of a Squad
In Army or Marine Corps infantry units, a squad is made up of either two (Army) or three (USMC) fire teams. An Army fire team features up to five soldiers while Marine Corps fire teams comprise four marines. Army squads are typically led by a staff sergeant (E6, on a scale of E1 to E9). Marine Corps squads usually are led by either a corporal (E4) of outstanding infantry skill or a sergeant (E5).
Generally, the fire team is the smallest maneuver element in either service's infantry branch, with the squad ranking above it. There's a team leader, a rifleman, an automatic rifleman and an assistant (an 'A' Gunner) in the Marines or an automatic rifleman and a grenade launcher specialist in the Army. The squad itself is the lowest formal element in terms of organizational hierarchy. The squad leader's first task is to effectively develop fire team proficiency.
The Role of the Squad Leader
The squad leader leads her fire teams and in turn reports to her superior, the platoon leader. This officer is normally a second lieutenant (O1 on a scale of O1 to O9). A squad leader, then, has to be skilled at working with the platoon's officer and enlisted leadership. She also has to be proficient at taking direct orders and then turning them into the appropriate kind of action carried out by the soldiers or marines she leads.
Overall Duties and Responsibilities
Infantry squad leaders are expected to lead by example. They account for their soldiers and all their equipment, for one. They also control how their squad maneuvers in the field, especially during combat. Good squad leaders also take responsibility for the maintenance of squad-assigned weapons and ammunition. They're expected to be proficient in logistics (supply) and administration as well. They place requisitions for ammunition and most other items needed to support the squad.
An infantry squad leader works to develop squad combat effectiveness. He's also earned his position through past outstanding performance. As well, he became a squad leader by demonstrating solid knowledge of infantry tactics and weapons. He's responsible for leading his men in the field and when back in garrison. He often inspects the weapons, equipment and clothing of his men. Additionally, he works with the company first sergeant on the professional development of his men.
Tony Guerra served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He also spent seven years as an airline operations manager. Guerra is a former realtor, real-estate salesperson, associate broker and real-estate education instructor. He holds a master's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.