United States Army captains are important mid-level commanders. Serving at the company level, captains hold a variety of combat, administrative and support roles. With more experience under their belt than lieutenants, captains are often tasked with sharing the command burden at larger force strengths, such as the battalion level. Young officers and non-commissioned officers alike look to their captains for mentorship, leadership and wise counsel.
Captains are routinely found commanding companies of soldiers, ranging from 100 to 200 men. Captains tend to join their men on the ground in active fighting, something that many majors relinquish in favor of headquarters or staff officer duties. Captains also command artillery batteries, tank or aviation squadrons as well as infantry soldiers.
Captains are found performing roles at the battalion level, serving in staff and support roles. Staff officers at this level disseminate orders from above to other officers and men, as well as performing logistical, intelligence and security actions. These officers interpret and research data to best assist his commanding colonels and generals, who ultimately issue orders. These duties consist of planning, support and offering tactical advice and direction. Many captains transferring out of combat roles enter later into professorial roles at military academies and institutions featuring ROTC coursework.
Medical and Chaplain Duties
Army captains are often found in non-combat roles in the medical and chaplain branches of the United States Army. Army doctors bring their education and experience from the civilian world to the military, offering services in physical, mental and even veterinarian spheres. Chaplains provide valuable emotional and spiritual support to all soldiers, as well as attending during funerals and services. Many of these officers receive direct commissions as lieutenants and captains. Their superiors are graded on years of service, specialty and meritorious service.
Only officers may fly rotor and fixed-wing aircraft in the United States Army. Captains fill many of these roles, serving as squadron leaders. As they increase to majors and colonels, their responsibilities increase to commanding multiple squadrons, battalions and brigades. These detachments fly reconnaissance and combat sorties, finding enemy locations and providing invaluable combat air support to troops and armor on the ground. Captains also lead support missions such as supply drops and delivery of vehicles and armor to the battlefield.