CAMP ZAMA, Japan - Human Resources Command’s (HRC) Commanding General and a team of HRC senior leaders visited Japan last week to discuss first-hand the changes in personnel programs that will impact the future of our Army. Over 200 senior officers and noncommissioned Officers across all the units that make up U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward) participated in the presentations both at Camp Zama and in Okinawa. The senior officer briefs focused on changes to the Officer Evaluation Reports and the future of Officer Promotions across the service. The senior NCO briefs discussed the impact of the Qualitative Service Program (QSP) and other force shaping programs that have an effect on the NCO ranks in the near future.
The purpose of the visit was two-fold according to Human Resources Command (HRC) Commander, Maj. Gen. Richard Mustion. “We are here to make soldiers aware of the manning of our Army and what they can expect in the future as far as some of the major changes that are coming out.We also want to do all we can to reduce the stress and the uncertainty that our soldiers face and learn their concerns. Additionally, we want to learn from the soldiers to determine if there are any gaps in our processes that we (HRC) can improve upon.”
One of the topics discussed in the senior officer briefs is a major change in the Officer Evaluation Report (OER) system. The new OER, currently scheduled for implementation in December, will be grade specific with different reports for Company Grade (2LT-CPT & WO1-CW2), Field Grade (MAJ-LTC & CW3-CW5), and Strategic Leaders (COL-BG) evaluation Reports. The rater and senior rater for these reports will render block checks to the rated officer, and will be forced to manage their rating profiles by only giving “Top” blocks, the highest rating, to 49.9 percent of the officers they rate throughout their career. This is intended to assist selection boards in easily identifying the “best qualified” officers for promotions.
Another topic of discussion in the senior officer briefs was the normalizations of an officers timeline to allow for “Broadening Assignments.” This includes increased time in grade to captain, major and colonel and a reduction in average time in key and developmental positions to 18-24 months. Broadening Assignments are assignments that are designed to increase the Officer’s experience and understanding of the Army, and are usually not directly associated with line units or the officer’s primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). An example the HRC commander gave was the Army Staff. In fact, Mustion suggests that Commanders should encourage officers with high performance and potential to pursue competitive broadening assignments such as internships, fellowships and scholarships.
The senior noncommissioned officer briefs tend to focus on the Qualitative Selection Program. The QSP consists of a series of centralized board processes designed to select and retain the highest quality NCOs who display the greatest potential for continued service. The selection process for the QSP follows the same voting methodology applied to all current selection boards. According to Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Payton, the command sergeant major of U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward),“HRC was able to give some very detailed information not only on how QSP will effect NCOs in the near term, but in the long term as well.”
To Payton the overall message was extremely clear. “Soldiers need to be proactive in managing their individual careers and making sure that they are doing the things they need to do to ensure they are touching all of the bases that are required of their specific MOSs. Their accountability of their own records, of themselves, and their performance are the most important things. To be competitive, you must do the best that you can do at whatever job that is given to you, then the report that is rendered from that performance will reflect that you were doing what you were suppose to be doing.”