I've been trying to figure out a good way to word this post for a few days now. I am not really sure why I am having so many problems with it since it boils down to the very simple fact that I don't want to be a platoon leader.
After completing OBC, most 2LTs go to their units, and are assigned as platoon leaders. Occasionally, they might join the staff or have some other job, and if they are in the National Guard, they might quickly find themselves thrust into the position of XO or even Company Commander due to shortages. Basically, platoon leader, or PL, is not the only job for 2LTs but it is the one that is most emphasized. In school, whenever we talked about these kinds of things in class, we basically worked off the assumption that we would start off our careers as platoon leaders, and most of the rest of the cadre I've met since thinks that way as well. These same captains, majors, colonels, and sometimes even generals all tend to tell the same story: it's the greatest and most challenging experience ever; fight to stay with a platoon as long as possible because that's the only time you get to work with men; work hand in hand with your platoon sergeant etc. Last week, one colonel asked us who amongst us wanted to be a PL, and every single person in that class raised their hand, so eventually I did as well. That's the problem I'm having right now: There are other positions available for lieutenants, not everyone can be a PL and some people love and want to do it longer (normally, it's anywhere from 12 to 18 months, but one of our captains was a platoon leader for 27 months) but I can't really come out and say that. I'm supposed to want to be a platoon leader so if I get to my unit and tell them I'd like to be staff, if possible, I'm afraid I'm going to give them a horrible first impression. (I was talking to J about this, and he felt a similar pressure to raise his hand in response to the colonel's question; however, as National Guard, he might have a bit more control about what position he can get.)
There are two reasons that I don't want to be platoon leader, and it's only in combination that they really bother me. Unfortunately, both reasons apply to my situation and there's nothing I can do about it.
1) We're at war.
2) I'm a Transportation Officer.
One of my main weaknesses that keeps coming up over and over again is my lack of command presence. I'm a quiet person, and while that might work as a leadership style in many instances, I'm afraid I'd lose control of the situation if I were ever under fire. Unfortunately, as transportation, I have a slightly larger chance of taking fire or hitting an IED than other branches - after all, transpo leaves the FOB (forward operating base) on a daily basis for convoys while other branches are more stationary (such as AG or Medical Service, which I wanted and still regret not getting). Basically, if I were one of those other branches, I'd feel a lot better about the idea of being a platoon leader, or if I were guaranteed that my unit would not deploy while I was platoon leader, I would be less worried about being a transportation PL. When it comes to Iraq, though, I just feel like I'd be better put to use in a different position, and the troops would be better off with someone else leading them. I'm sure being a platoon leader and working with the soldiers (in some cases as a social worker as one captain has said) would be a rewarding experience, but I don't like the current circumstances.
I don't really have any say where I'm going to go or what I'm going to be, but I hate the fact that I don't even feel comfortable telling higher-ranking officers that I'd prefer being staff to being a platoon leader.