United States Army  

HQDA Staff Officer's Guidebook

Headquarters, Department of the Army

| Preface | Contents | Foreword | I: Helpful Hints | II: Staff Procedures | III: Professional Services | IV: Personal Services |



An officer assigned to the HQDA Staff must understand the direction and priorities of the Army leadership much as one is expected to know the commander's intent in a tactical unit. The major difference between staff actions at this level and subordinate levels is the magnitude of their impact. Staffs actions at DA level affect the Total Army and, often, U.S. and allied defense efforts.

The specific role of a staff officer is job related and will vary by agency. No particular agency can be considered a microcosm of the overall headquarters. Some positions will call on an officer to develop detailed plans or devote full attention to one highly specialized area. In other cases, responsibility will be extremely broad, with a large part of the day devoted to expediting staff work.

Generally speaking, the role of a staff officer is to get things done by not waiting to be told what to do, actively seeking areas that need attention, and not hesitating to stand up and be counted.

As a professional, the staff officer seeks ways to achieve a more professional Army, such as assigning priority to those actions which should provide the maximum payoff to the Army in terms of success in combat, staff efficiency, and improved procedures and not devoting an inordinate amount of attention to areas which are unrelated to the Army mission. A staff officer researches an area carefully and ensures that the recommendations he/she provides the decision-makers are founded on fact and stated with precision.

The final test of completed staff work is this: If you yourself were the commander, would you be willing to sign the paper you have prepared? Would you stake your professional reputation on its being right? If your answer would be "no," take the paper back and rework it, because it is not yet completed staff work.


Learning a new job always presents some difficulties. There are doubts and uncertainties as to how best to proceed. How you start tends to influence the degree of final success.

Over the years, you undoubtedly have developed your own techniques for rapidly coming to grips with new responsibilities. What works for one officer may not work for another. Following are a few points you might consider in getting started.


Become fully familiar with staff relationships.

Do not write when you can telephone, e-mail, or discuss a matter personally.

Suspense dates are not inflexible.

Before initiating an action, ask yourself this questionis it really necessary?

Always use the proper media and procedures in preparing a staff action.

Handcarry Important actions!

Integration and coordination are essential.

Always follow through.

Have a sense of history.

Hold to a normal duty day to the extent possible.

Respect the opinion of your colleagues.

Remember the mission.

Be security conscious.

Reinforce good performance.

Maintain a point of contact list.

Keep a personal set of key directives.

It will pay to study and learn certain regulations from cover to cover. Your personal reference set of directives should, as a minimum, consist of the following:

  1. AR 10-5 covers HQDA organization and functions.
  2. DA Memo 10-7 prescribes relationships, between the Army Staff and Army Secretariat.
  3. DA Memo 25-52 is the action officers' bible when it comes to processing staff actions.
  4. DA General Order 10 prescribes the duties and responsibilities of the Army Secretariat.
  5. Army Handbook for Joint Actions prescribes precise procedures for JCS.


| Preface | Contents | Foreword | I: Helpful Hints | II: Staff Procedures | III: Professional Services | IV: Personal Services |

For Comments, Changes, and Additions, please email hqdasog@hqda.army.mil

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