News: Installation visits address personnel concerns
Story by Sgt. Uriah Walker
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The Army is reducing its end-strength to 490,000 by the end of fiscal year 2015. As it reduces and reorganizes its brigade combat teams to achieve this number, Human Resources Command is taking steps now to minimize the impact on soldiers and their families.
According to an Army Times interview with Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mustion, commanding general, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, “HRC wants to make sure that the soldiers and families serving have an understanding of what HRC is doing and that we have an engagement strategy synchronized with the latest programs and initiatives being implemented by the Army.”
More than 10 years ago, before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, HRC used to send teams out to installations for briefings on personnel issues. Now that deployment cycles are slowing down those teams are beginning to make those visits again to meet with not only installation leaders but soldiers as well.
“These installation visits (and the personal engagements that result) give us a better understanding of soldiers’ concerns,” said Mustion.
During these visits several topics will be discussed such as Leader Development, Broadening Opportunities, Transition and Records Accuracy.
Leader Development – This is a never-ending process that includes educational, operational and experiential components. We need to have the right systems, opportunities and policies in place to develop leaders, commanders and soldiers to take advantage of them.
Broadening Opportunities – Officers and noncommissioned officers should be open to consider a diverse range of career opportunities when communicating with their assignment officers and career managers.
Transition – We are investing heavily in transition assistance programs. Transition is now a commander's program that emphasizes that soldiers begin transition education and assistance no later than 12 months prior to separation to ensure they are civilian career and/or education ready. Transition is a continual process, not an event; the earlier individuals begin preparing, the more successful they will be.
Records Accuracy – HRC is initiating a major records accuracy effort to clean up soldier records. Every record needs to be as accurate and reflective of the soldier's service and performance as possible to ensure our downsizing Army retains its very best. The entire HR community must again step up to the plate and reengage – being stewards of the HR efforts, supporting soldiers, and advising Commanders on regulatory requirements and processes.
Another major change being implemented April 1, 2014, is a new Officer Evaluation Report. “The new OER system better aligns with the current Army leadership doctrine,” explained Mustion.
The changes include incorporating a rater profile, transition forms based on grade plates, refined senior rater techniques, identification of operational and broadening assignments. The purpose is to clarify top performance indicators to ensure officers are appropriately developed, mentored, recognized and advanced.
“I think before we place an officer, NCO or soldier on assignment instructions we ought to understand the impact the move will have on a soldier and their family,” he said. “There might be considerations not visible in a soldier’s personnel file that might need to be considered. This is a cultural change for HRC and it might take us a while to get there but I think it’s important for us to consider as we strengthen the All Volunteer Army.”