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Understanding the Plebe Summer Organization at the Naval Academy

parent's guide plebe summer Jun 01, 2019

As you begin to receive letters with stories from Plebe Summer (in addition to those phone calls), it is likely you will begin to hear terms like ‘Squad Leader’, ‘Platoon Commander’, ‘Company Commander’, ‘Battalion’, and ‘Regimental Commander’. If you are unfamiliar with the military and these terms mean nothing to you, that is okay. When I was a plebe, these terms were completely foreign to my parents as well. So, with this article, I hope to provide a little bit of understanding and context so that when you hear from your plebe, you can better understand the plebe summer organization and what are sure to be entertaining tales.

Regimental and Battalion Staffs

At the top of what we refer to as “the chain of command” is the Regimental Staff.  The Regimental staff is led by the Regimental Commander, who is the highest ranking midshipman during Plebe Summer and is in command of the 4/C Regiment (comprised of all roughly 1150 plebes).  The Regimental Commander is referred to as “Midshipman Commander [Last Name]” and will wear shoulder boards with 5 stripes on his or her whites, and what we refer to as “railroad tracks” of 5 connected gold bars on the lapel of the khaki uniform.

The 4/C Regiment is then divided into two Battalions: Port Battalion and Starboard Battalion.  Port Battalion is comprised of Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, and Hotel Companies while Starboard Battalion consists of India, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, and Papa.  Each Battalion is commanded by their respective Battalion Commander.  A Battalion Commander is referred to as “Midshipman Lieutenant Commander [Last Name]” and will wear shoulder boards with 4 stripes on her or his whites, and 4 connected gold bars on the lapel of the khaki uniform.  

It is likely you will not hear much about the Regimental and Starboard Battalion Commanders as they have far less daily interaction with the Plebes. The Regimental and Battalion Staffs are designated to help facilitate training at the Company and Platoon levels (we’re about to get there) as well as ensure that the rules and regulations are being followed. As such, the Regimental and Battalion Commanders spend more time with actual commissioned officers working plebe summer than they do with the plebes.  However, there have been phenomenal leaders that have held these positions in the past who have made tremendously large positive impacts on the plebes. They have done this by making an extra effort to be present around training and be an inspiring presence, helping to relieve some of the pressure being placed by the Company detailers.   

Company Commanders

As we move down to the Company Level, this is where the training really happens.  Each Company consists of two platoons, moving in ascending alphabetic and numeric order i.e. Alpha (“A”) Company is made up by 1st and 2nd Platoons, Bravo (“B”) Company is made up of 3rd and 4th Platoons, Charlie (“C”) Company is made up of 5th and 6th Platoons, and so on and so forth.

*Side Note: A plebe’s Platoon number during Plebe Summer directly correlates to his or her Academic Year Company number.  Therefore, if your plebe is in Alpha Company 2nd Platoon right now, he or she will be in 2nd Company during the Academic Year and if your plebe is in November Company 26th Platoon (Ride Rough!!!), then you are correct, he or she will be in the greatest company in the Brigade of Midshipmen: the 26th Company.*

Each Plebe Summer Company has a Company Commander.  The Company Commander is referred to as “Midshipman Lieutenant [Last Name]” and has, in my opinion, one of the best jobs during Plebe Summer.  The Company Commander is actively involved in day to day training of the plebes, and addresses the Company every night at the Blue and Gold Ceremony.  The ability for the Company Commander to reflect on the day, offer words of advice, and set the expectations for the following day is an unparalleled experience.  It is likely the Company Commander will have tenants or goals for the Company, and it may be a great thing to ask your plebe about in either a letter or during the phone call!  The Company Commander will wear 3 stripes in whites and 3 connected gold bars in khakis.


Next up is the platoon.  A platoon consists of approximately 35-40 plebes and is led by its respective platoon commander, who will be referred to as “Midshipman Lieutenant Junior Grade [Last Name].”  The platoon commander often possesses a very strong personality and accepts nothing short of perfection because she or he spends all day with the plebes and runs the training evolutions.  The platoon commander also has an added responsibility of having to lead the platoon in a military drill competition (where they do cool stuff with their rifles) and often builds a strong bond with the plebe class because of the countless hours they spend working together to perfect their display of military precision.  The platoon commander will wear 2 stripes on their shoulder boards in whites and 2 connected gold bars in khakis.


At the lowest level, the plebes are then broken into squads. Each platoon has four squads consisting of approximately 8-10 plebes.  The squads are led by the most important detailers in Plebe Summer, the squad leaders.  I want to reiterate that the squad leaders are the most important detailers and are the most crucial factors to the overall success of Plebe Summer.  Each squad leader will be able to influence his or her plebes on a daily basis, keenly observing their strengths and weaknesses, and constantly working to fix the shortcomings in order to transform them from civilians into midshipmen.  The Squad Leaders will break bad habits and form great ones.  The Squad Leaders will put tremendous pressure and stress on the plebes, but then also build them back up.  The Squad Leaders will work out with their plebes, will eat with their plebes, have professional discussions with their plebes, and overall make a tremendous impact on their plebes lives.  It is very likely you will hear stories involving your plebe’s squad leader.

If you remember the story I told about Midshipman Cox on I-day…well, he was my squad leader.  I will always remember the times he yelled at me, ensuring I met the standards required of a midshipman.  I will always remember the times he would use the King Hall serving tongs to pinch my ears while we were eating (now that I look back on it that’s definitely pretty weird, but in the moment it just added to the overall Plebe Summer experience).  But what I will remember most was him taking the time to pull me aside, and mentor me when I was very seriously considering leaving.  He had a tremendous impact on my journey, and I may not be at this point if it wasn’t for him.

Squad leaders can either be 2/C (Junior) Midshipman or a 1/C (Senior) Midshipman and the overall split is about 50% 2/C and 50% Firsties (nickname for seniors in their first class year).  The 2/C will be called “Midshipman Second Class [Last Name],” and will wear 2 diagonal stripes on their shoulder boards in whites and an anchor on each collar in khakis.  

The 1/C will be called “Midshipman Ensign [Last Name],” and will wear one horizontal stripe on the shoulder boards in whites and a single gold bar on each collar in khakis.

I hope this provides some context for the stories to come!

For an in-depth discussion about plebe summer organization, listen to my podcast episode on this topic on Apple Podcasts at Plebe Summer Organization Podcast or on my Buzzsprout page at