An adjutant is a non-commissioned officer (NCO) who supports the armed forces by providing personnel management. An adjutant is a common fixture in the U.S. Army, helping soldiers with administrative tasks while helping commanders keep soldiers combat ready at all times. The skill set of a military adjutant is comparable to the responsibilities of an office manager, paralegal or human resources expert in a corporate environment.
An adjutant operates the administrative infrastructure that makes combat operations run properly. Just as soldiers are organized into platoons, battalions, brigades and so forth, so are corresponding adjutants. Each of these military combat units has a great number of administrative tasks that must be performed to keep the soldiers prepared and enthusiastic. In this vein, some adjutants manage military correspondence and perform basic secretarial functions. Adjutants are also formally trained in the legwork that makes the military run smoothly. This includes specific training in:
- Combat Readiness
- Casualty Operations
- Information Management
- Postal Operations
- Morale, Welfare and Recreation Support
The modern adjutant is a military position that evolved from the traditional role of a commander's personal assistant. As the non-combat needs and tasks of the military have increased, so have the responsibilities of the adjutant. By coordinating information and activities, adjutants are closely tied to ceremonial duties like award presentations, funerals, hails and farewells. In this capacity, the Adjutant General's Corps develops and directs all band activities at a given command, including any musical training an army band member may need. The adjutants also periodically inspect the band and its equipment to ensure that each command's band is proficient and fully staffed.
Adjutants are the lifeblood of the NCO Corps. Non-commissioned officers are in greater demand than ever before in these days of modern, intelligence-based warfare. Adjutants are relied upon to understand the military's systems, the capabilities of those systems, and how to efficiently appoint tasks in the systems. Furthermore, the adjutant must know which soldier skills are necessary to operate any particular military system. Rigorous intelligence gathering used to be part of the process of "peaking" soldiers'; skills when a threat was imminent. These days, soldiers, and the administrative systems that support them, must always be as ready as possible. This reality makes the role of the adjutant more necessary than ever.
Adjutants, once trained, begin as basic adjutants and may advance in the ranks of the Adjutant General's Corps. With time and skill, an adjutant takes on higher levels of responsibility and leadership. A high ranking adjutant coordinates employment at every command level, right up to multi-national endeavors. For example, an Adjutant General Captain's responsibilities include:
- Developing doctrine for all lower adjutant general operations
- Teaching specialized administrative skills to personnel at combat training centers
- Commanding and controlling larger units of hundreds of adjutant generals
- Serving as an administrative advisor to the National Guard and Army Reserve