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    Default Towards a U.S. Army Officer Corps Strategy for Success

    http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute....cfm?pubID=912

    Towards a U.S. Army Officer Corps Strategy for Success: A Proposed Human Capital Model Focused upon Talent

    Authored by Colonel Casey Wardynski, Major David S. Lyle, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Michael J. Colarusso.
    Apr 2009

    SUMMARY
    Throughout America's history, U.S. Army officers have played an integral role in the formulation and execution of its national security policy. However, the intersection of multiple factors such as technological advancements, globalization, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, a protracted conflict waged with an undersized, all-volunteer Army, and the increased demand in the civilian sector for the skills that junior officers possess, suggest that future national security challenges will be markedly different from those which were met so successfully in the past.

    We find compelling evidence that the U.S. Army's Officer Corps will be unequal to future demands unless substantive management changes are made. Perhaps the most obvious risk indicator is the Army's persistent and substantial gap in mid-career officers. Much of this gap stems from low officer continuations on active duty beyond the initial service obligation, particularly among ROTC scholarship and West Point officers. The Army has also radically shifted its sources of commission from those that extensively screen, vet, and cull for talent such as ROTC and West Point, to those with minimal talent filters. For example, Officer Candidate School accessions have increased from a historical annual average of 10 percent to more than 40 percent of active duty commissions. At the same time, promotion rates have skyrocketed so that virtually all officers choosing to remain on active duty can reasonably expect continued advancement and eventual promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

    Some senior Army leaders, analysts in think tanks, and others in government believe that the demands of the Global War on Terror and the Army's modular transformation combined to create these troubling symptoms. However, strong evidence reveals that the root causes of these problems precede the war and modularity, and are instead grounded in the Army's failure to understand and appropriately respond to a changing talent market. In short, the Army has relied on draft-era practices to manage an all-volunteer Army. More specifically, the Army has lacked a cohesive strategy to guide its officer manpower efforts. Actions taken to remedy the problems outlined above have actually reduced the likelihood that the Officer Corps will be equal to the challenges that lie ahead.

    In this monograph, the authors argue that those challenges demand a comprehensive Officer Corps strategy recognizing the interdependency of accessing, developing, retaining, and employing talented people, officers with high learning and problem solving aptitudes and whose mental acuity and intellectual agility allows them to master the diverse competencies demanded now and in the future. Such a strategy will position the Army to compete with the civilian market for talent. It will translate directly into better officer development and retention through increased job satisfaction, and it will move the Army beyond personnel management to talent management.

    An officer talent management strategy will also create the institutional agility required to facilitate job matching, allowing the Army to achieve the right breadth and depth of officer competencies to meet evolving requirements--"the right talent in the right job at the right time." To realize this vision, however, the Army must develop a strategy that commits ample resources, incorporates appropriate policy, and reevaluates existing organizational designs. Failure to do so may result in a U.S. Army unequal to its share of the security challenges confronting the United States and its allies.

    Introduction.
    Throughout its history, military officers have been integral to the formulation and execution of U.S. national security policy. From George Washington, Ulys- ses Grant, and George Marshall to Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, and David Petraeus, the United States has repeatedly called upon its most talented Army officers to execute missions successfully across a wide spectrum, from peacetime military engagement to major combat operations. Several factors, however, may make future challenges markedly different from those met so successfully in the past.

    First, the United States and its allies are confronted by an increasing number of actors who are willing to use violence to achieve their ends, unconstrained by the moral convictions or legal restrictions within which traditional military forces operate. The intersection of several factors has created this ever more dynamic and demanding security environment, including the accelerating creation and diffusion of technology, urbanization, globalization, resource competition, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and the absence of the rule of law in a growing number of failed states.

    Moreover, while its current generation of officers has been able to count upon American economic and technological preeminence as unrivaled sources of power, the U.S. Army's future officers may be unable to do so. Instead, they will likely be confronted by several nations possessing large, relatively young and well-educated populations, with greater access to capital and technology drawn from rapidly expanding domestic economies. Against this backdrop of competing nation-states, Army leaders will also be challenged by nonstate actors who operate in and around urban centers, rely upon the safe havens provided by a growing number of failed states, and adapt technologies to create asymmetric threats. As we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, prevailing against such foes is landpower-intensive. As a result, the U.S. Army's particular competencies are in great demand and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.

    Second, the United States and its armed forces are waging this protracted conflict with an all-volunteer military force. Unlike previous wars, there is little "lateral entry" of specialized talent via conscription, nor is there any significant popular or political U.S. support for returning to a draft. America's Army, therefore, must wage war with the volunteer officers it accesses and retains. Now more than ever, these men and women must be extremely talented.

    Yet, despite the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) entering its 8th year, there is compelling evidence that the Army has continued to rely upon legacy officer management practices, practices that were increasingly outmoded even before the war began. In fact, that evidence suggests that the United States has been assuming significant risk in its Army Officer Corps for over a decade. Consequently, the Army requires an officer corps strategy to meet the unique challenges outlined above.

    Conclusion
    More than ever before, the U.S. Army requires an Officer Corps strategy that recognizes and leverages the interdependence between accessing, developing, retaining, and employing talent. Beyond attainment of the right number of officers at each career level, the Army increasingly needs talented officers, those with pronounced aptitudes for learning and problem solving, and whose mental acuity and intellectual agility allows them to master the diverse competencies demanded by the times. The Army's officer human capital model, which necessarily limits lateral entry at middle and senior levels, makes screening, vetting, and culling for such talent critical.

    So, too, the U.S. Army must develop the institutional adaptability to employ the right talent in the right job at the right time. In so doing, it will finally move beyond assignment management to a genuine talent management system. We believe that such a system, based upon the principles articulated in this monograph, must be the centerpiece of an Officer Strategy -- it is the single best way to eliminate the problems which have challenged the Army's Officer Corps for the last decade, while simultaneously posturing it for future success. A talent management system will position the Army to compete with the civilian market for officer talent. It will translate directly into better officer development and retention through increased job satisfaction. Talent management will also facilitate job matching, which will allow the Army to achieve the right breadth and depth of officer competencies to meet evolving requirements. The Army must commit ample resources, develop appropriate policy, and reevaluate existing organizational designs to this end.

    Failure to do so may lead to a future in which the U.S. Army is unequal to its share of the security challenges confronting both the United States and its allies.
    More at the link at the top.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Pretty good paper.

    They missed two really important points:

    The OCS guys stay past eight years in greater numbers because they like what they're doing. The USMA and ROTC grads leave in greater numbers because they do not like what they're doing -- and I submit that a lot of Staff jobs aid them in making that determination. The OCS person will endure the staff because the Army is more important to him than the petty foolishness -- or his wife. OTOH, the bright young thing will not stay because his wife is more important than the Army and the 18-20 year old who is calculating enough to opt for a scholarship probably had other things in mind down the pike in any event...

    The solution, therefor, is to reduce the number of ROTC scholarships AND Staff positions. As the US Army is significantly over-officered with respect to the Officer to EM ratio, that should not be a problem. As they note, the Officer Corps is currently authorized at about 20% of enlisted strength -- about twice what it should be.

    I realize that over strength is to cope with situations such as the current shortfalls -- but the situation is not that bad. Over strength is also designed as a mobilization hedge. That is certainly needed but there are other ways to do that...

    Those are minor quibbles; they say:
    the Army should develop the institutional adaptability to place the right officers in the right jobs at the right time.
    Couldn't agree more though HRC will object, I'm sure -- which means the authors are on the right track.

    They ought to also look at doing away with the Warrant Officer program. I know a lot of WOs like it (what's not to like ) but I think the Army would be better served by making those guys commissioned officers. If they have enough talent to be WOs, they probably have enough to be commissioned -- particularly if we realize that 'up or out' is a lousy way to do business. There's a lot of talent in the Army and the Army does a poor job of tapping it -- I will note that a lot of that talent does not want to be commissioned for various reasons; responsibility, conformity, socialization and a lot of hard days probably being the top four things they wish to avoid. A couple of those are fixable and we wouldn't want those who'd be excessively concerned about the first and last in any event.

    Oh -- and tell the Air Force to go pound sand and make the average Helicopter Pilot a NCO instead of a Warrant.

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    Default Talent management...

    ...I like that. When I was a battalion commander, my best company commanders ended up getting out, while the drudges remained. There were a lot of reasons for that, but the virtual impossibility of getting ahead of the pack during a typical career was certainly one of them. Two examples can illustrate:

    I had several lieutenants who would have made better commanders than some of the captains I was forced to give command of companies. On at least one occasion I was forced to give a company to a man I knew, and my boss knew, was incompetent. Why? It was his turn. He commanded for 365 days and left with a bad OER, but he still ran the company into the ground. I assigned one of the best lieutenants as his XO in an attempt to alleviate some of the damage; this worked, but that lieutenant left the Army a year or two later, partly as a result of that experience.

    In Afghanistan, I met several majors in the planning cell who were far more talented, innovative, and energetic than the lieutenant colonel who ran the cell. He was a drone and a negative influence: he quashed good ideas because he was afraid to run them by the boss, offered nothing in the way of inspiration, and couldn't even effectively manage the workload. Yet he stayed on, because the slot called for a lieutenant colonel. Everyone, including the commander and chief of staff simply worked around him, which was dysfunctional and wasted energy.

    Until you reach general officer level, it is simply impossible to rise significantly faster than your peers. Even double-below-the-zone selectees only gain two years, and usually by getting [I][B]less[B][I] time in 'good' jobs as they are rushed through the BQ hoops. No budding Napoleon, Marshall, or Alexander gets any more time leading troops than someone who barely makes the command-cut.

    Until you have some mechanism for accelerating promotion and less concern for 'fairness' or 'equity' in your officer personnel system, you will have a great deal of difficulty in either discerning, retaining, or managing talent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    Until you have some mechanism for accelerating promotion and less concern for 'fairness' or 'equity' in your officer personnel system, you will have a great deal of difficulty in either discerning, retaining, or managing talent.
    I think a lot of this comes down to how you recruit your officers, and what criteria you use to select them. Armies that require all officers to have succeeded as NCOs first or rather to have risen well above the ranks historically produce highly motivated men.

    A lot also depends on how do you detect talent. The bad officers getting promoted or staying in slots have all proved adept at working the system. There are ways for measuring who is generally smart, professional and adaptable, but very few armies seem to use them.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Have to echo Wilf

    Initial selection is key -- I've long contended that I'd rather have two motivated dummies than all unmotivated smart guys you can give me. I can train the dummies; I cannot motivate the unmotivated (and the 'good leadership is required' crock is just that, a crock).

    I would also in a Company or on a big staff rather be ten people short than two people over strength. Over strength breeds complacency and goofing off...

    I will also echo Eden, who very correctly said:
    "Until you have some mechanism for accelerating promotion and less concern for 'fairness' or 'equity' in your officer personnel system, you will have a great deal of difficulty in either discerning, retaining, or managing talent."
    Note he rightly leads with "discerning" or identifying. You cannot get there if that step is omitted on the basis that 'anyone with the right credentials' can do it. They can't.

    Some in Congress will fight that contention -- that battle needs to be fought; we do not have the luxury of a Draft to compensate for the terrible and glaring shortfall in that 'logic.'

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    Default Who shall bell the cat?

    This piece is nothing short of excellent as far as the analysis goes. OEMA has an excellent reputation for high quality work. In contrast to other think pieces based on anecdotal evidence, this monograph presents facts and figures that are pretty amazing and deserve our attention. They also dispel, or attempt to, the HQ saw that what we are experiencing in the form of officer personnel challenges is primarily a result of the wars.

    Having said that, Iím not sure all the conclusions follow directly from the evidence presented. Maybe we can discuss details in later posts.

    More importantly however, how specifically, not generally or theoretically, do we proceed?

    Is the current OER system a reflection of talent? If not, what is? What can be?

    Is there a statistically sound qualitative breakout of what talent is leaving the Army?

    Has anyone developed a mechanism to assess talent, especially among adolescents we want to recruit?

    There are many ancillary issues raised by this study. Let the discussions begin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White
    The OCS guys stay past eight years in greater numbers because they like what they're doing. The USMA and ROTC grads leave in greater numbers because they do not like what they're doing -- and I submit that a lot of Staff jobs aid them in making that determination. The OCS person will endure the staff because the Army is more important to him than the petty foolishness -- or his wife. OTOH, the bright young thing will not stay because his wife is more important than the Army and the 18-20 year old who is calculating enough to opt for a scholarship probably had other things in mind down the pike in any event...
    Ken,

    There's certainly some truth in that, but the question is broader than just those eight years. OCS officers will also experience higher continuation rates in those eight years because they are closer to hitting the 20yr mark (and compared to ROTC/USMA graduates, have fewer years to make up for the lost value of that retirement pay). Thus, the question also becomes one of continuation beyond 20 years of service (including enlisted service). They don't present this in the piece, but if memory serves me correct, you see a large attrition in OCS commissionees at that point. The authors don't cite specific evidence but do address this:

    Accordingly, many of these OCS-IS officers will be eligible for retirement before reaching the rank of major, which does little to help fill the Army’s shortages at the rank of major and lieutenant colonel.
    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen
    I think a lot of this comes down to how you recruit your officers, and what criteria you use to select them. Armies that require all officers to have succeeded as NCOs first or rather to have risen well above the ranks historically produce highly motivated men.
    Wilf,

    You're going to have to school me on some of the historical examples, but in looking at your comment, one Army that currently comes to mind as a model of this is the IDF. However, that is a very imprecise analogy because their mandatory service keeps the pool of potential OCS candidates almost as large as the population. However, given the All-Volunteer Army in the United States, your ability to grow the enlisted pool large enough to support an officer corps with the attributes the authors describe is simply not sustainable (additionally, in terms of cost, OCS-IS is the most expensive form of commissioning in the US). Also, given the IDF's propensity towards the tactical spectrum (after all, the potential breadth of their mission set is not the same as the US), I'm not sure if they're the correct example to look at even if we were to ignore the mandatory conscription (although the # of waivers has increased over the years). However, I'm sure that there are other examples that I'm missing due to my own ignorance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White
    I've long contended that I'd rather have two motivated dummies than all unmotivated smart guys you can give me. I can train the dummies; I cannot motivate the unmotivated
    You can train dummies to function only up to a certain level of responsibility. At some point, training is not enough and it requires education, education that may be beyond the capability of the dummies. Nonetheless, I would hope that our pre-commissioning sources are able to cull out the unmotivated with the rare exception.

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle
    Is the current OER system a reflection of talent? If not, what is? What can be?
    OE,

    Fundamentally, I think the OER has decent enough blocks to capture different forms of talent. Raters can write about special skills that could be of use to the Army. However, unless these skills are sufficiently incentivized (consideration by promotion boards, actually use by branch managers to make assignment decisions as proposed by the authors, etc.), then it will remain underutilized.

    In terms of rentention, the masking of CPT OERs was a mistake in my opinion. Every single briefing I got as a LT/CPT by HRC folks spoke of how important company command OERs were (both in terms of ACOM and # of months in command) to battalion command selection boards. While it didn't affect my year group, if I were in a subsequent year group and had an ACOM profile that previously made me competitive but was now masked, my incentive to stick around was reduced. I think that on average, your more talented officers will have risen by the time they hit the 7/8 year point in commissioned service and so the masking now incentivizes less talented individuals to stick around while those who did shine above their peers may now decide to get out.

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    Default Self-inflicted?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    However, that is a very imprecise analogy because their mandatory service keeps the pool of potential OCS candidates almost as large as the population. However, given the All-Volunteer Army in the United States, your ability to grow the enlisted pool large enough to support an officer corps with the attributes the authors describe is simply not sustainable (additionally, in terms of cost, OCS-IS is the most expensive form of commissioning in the US). Also, given the IDF's propensity towards the tactical spectrum (after all, the potential breadth of their mission set is not the same as the US), I'm not sure if they're the correct example to look at even if we were to ignore the mandatory conscription (although the # of waivers has increased over the years). However, I'm sure that there are other examples that I'm missing due to my own ignorance.
    Why is it so costly? Is it due to the fact that one must at some point do degree completion? If this is the case why not do away with that requirement? Or if the Army wants to keep this program then one does it while assigned to USMA or any number of other assignments. Another option to fufill this requirement would be online courses, the options are out there. If the officer ranks are hurting so, why not go back to direct commissioning? There is always more effcient ways, it's just a matter if we choose to adopt them.

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    Default cost

    The report states the OCS-IS is the most costly because it robs peter to pay paul, taking usually senior NCOs out of units, and directing them to officer corps. It also takes them out of the Warrant pool, which pulls from senior NCO's. The report claims that OCS takes a NCO with 5-10+ years experience, takes him away from Soldiers, platoons, companies, etc... and puts him/her into OCS. After completion, they will serve as a 2LT, but then have to go to degree completion. Once back, many will be close to 20 year retirement, and many are eligible to retire before they make MAJ, which does not fill the mid-career officer shortage.

    Years of service + OCS + branch training + degree = most costly. That's their metric.
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    Default Got it

    Quote Originally Posted by patmc View Post
    The report states the OCS-IS is the most costly because it robs peter to pay paul, taking usually senior NCOs out of units, and directing them to officer corps. It also takes them out of the Warrant pool, which pulls from senior NCO's. The report claims that OCS takes a NCO with 5-10+ years experience, takes him away from Soldiers, platoons, companies, etc... and puts him/her into OCS. After completion, they will serve as a 2LT, but then have to go to degree completion. Once back, many will be close to 20 year retirement, and many are eligible to retire before they make MAJ, which does not fill the mid-career officer shortage.

    Years of service + OCS + branch training + degree = most costly. That's their metric.
    But that is where I see no reason it cannot be streamlined. If I stay in the same branch, say Infantry to Infantry, what branch qualification would I need? I guess to put this into perspective one would have to talk about at what rank of soldier we are talking about. Do we not always rob Peter to pay Paul? The bottomline is, which in the end would have the bigger overall impact? Soldier staying NCO or Soldier becoming an Officer? Ultimately what is the biggest bang for our buck?

    I can't buy the losing NCO bit. That is always the arguement when it comes to OCS, SF, Ranger BN, etc...... If that was the case the only NCOs left in units would be the ones who didn't make the cut or undesireables if you want to say.

    I understand the system, just not one to fall into the system is always right. I tend to look at how the system could be improved and question the system a lot.
    Last edited by ODB; 04-03-2009 at 02:12 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ODB View Post
    I can't buy the losing NCO bit. That is always the arguement when it comes to OCS, SF, Ranger BN, etc...... If that was the case the only NCOs left in units would be the ones who didn't make the cut or undesireables if you want to say.
    Not every solid NCO wants to go do something else, but for each one that does, you have to replace him/her. Sometimes the backfill was ready for the responsibility and the platoon is no worse off or maybe even better off (win-win), and sometimes they simply weren't ready and the platoon suffers from it (win-lose).

    It's the same argument that pops everytime that you have mandatory promotions - "they're a good soldier, but they're not ready to be a sergeant" - when you start thinning the ranks to make officers, then you're simply putting more people in the position to where they're given more responsibility than they are ready for.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Specious as a three dollar bill...

    Quote Originally Posted by patmc View Post
    The report states the OCS-IS is the most costly because it robs peter to pay paul, taking usually senior NCOs out of units...
    Rarely, most OCS types are SSG or below, mostly below.
    and directing them to officer corps.
    Who has more value?
    It also takes them out of the Warrant pool, which pulls from senior NCO's.
    In many specialties -- but Warrants could be commissioned and NCOs could do Warrant jobs. If the response to that is increased pay, I suggest that we really need a system to reward good performance with a pay increase and NOT a rank increase. I have never seen a motor sergeant who wasn't the best mechanic in his platoon -- and most of 'em would rather be Mechanics than Platoon Sergeants. I've seen some Warrant Crypto and other types -- they didn't do much. The Marine make Marine Gunners Platoon Leaders -- why not just commisioon them and let 'em know they may make Captain but higher isn't likely.
    The report claims that OCS takes a NCO with 5-10+ years experience, takes him away from Soldiers, platoons, companies, etc... and puts him/her into OCS. After completion, they will serve as a 2LT, but then have to go to degree completion. Once back, many will be close to 20 year retirement, and many are eligible to retire before they make MAJ, which does not fill the mid-career officer shortage.
    I can think of several responses to that but do not believe that's any where near the norm. I KNOW it was not 15 years and more ago. Regardless, the bulk of that complaint hinges on regulatory requirements. Regs can be changed.

    I'll also again state that the Army is over officered and much of that excess is on Staffs that are far too large. I once serve in a large headquarters with over 100 Field Grades. The vast majority of whom would far rather have been elsewhere and many of whom were terribly underemployed.
    Years of service + OCS + branch training + degree = most costly. That's their metric.
    Specious. The service was bought and paid for in the Enlisted account and he presumably did something to earn his pay.

    OCS is a cost.

    Branch training is an invalid charge as all Officers regardless of commission source attend.

    The degree is a cost (though I'd argue the real necessity in some cases) but is probably cheaper then some ROTC scholarships and I'll also point out that's another regulatory requirement...

    I understand their point and I understand much opposition to OCS and direct commissions in the Army. I acknowledge the hidden cost which they cite but would argue that they're skewing the metric to make a point...

    People do that with metrics quite often...

    Thanks for the info -- the above BTW is an attack on their justification process, not you.

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    If the degree completion and time necessary to do it are considered too costly for an officer who will not likely progress beyond MAJ, then it seems we could make the degree completion waiverable if the OCS candidate has 10 years or more prior service. The reason for the degree is that it is considered an educational foundation for a professional officer. If the individual is not going to progress beyond MAJ, then I doubt there is a whole lot of heavy, big-picture stuff that he will need an advanced degree to wrap his brain around. Most staff work can be done by moderately-trained simians and the leadership work is all small unit stuff that stresses creativity, intellect, and interpersonal skills, not education, test-taking, and pontificating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by patmc View Post
    Years of service + OCS + branch training + degree = most costly. That's their metric.
    Pat,

    Close. Branch training is a cost for every officer, so that's a wash. The degree will almost always be cheaper for OCS-IS, but chances are that many of those degrees were paid for with tuition assistance, so while it's a cost advantage to OCS-IS, it's not free. I also suspect that the overhead for OCS isn't a factor, as much of that infrastructure has to exist to allow OCS to be a viable source of high throughput expansion in the event of a major war that requires the # of commissions to skyrocket.

    Instead, the opportunity cost is that for every OCS-IS commissionee, you have to recruit and bring in the pyramid of guys to get that OCS-IS candidate. Here is the pertinent quote from page 9:

    At the same time, the U.S. Army has increasingly drawn senior NCOs into OCS. In 1997, only 15 percent of OCS-IS candidates had more than 10 years of enlisted service. By 2007 that percentage had tripled to 45 percent, and a full quarter of these were Sergeants First Class.
    To create these E-6s and E-7s, you had to bring in several privates. Some left after their first term as E-4s (or lower if they were chaptered). Some spent a second term and made E-5 or possibly E-6. Then some of these stuck around for another enlistment and became career, and then the Army accepted them into OCS-IS. Thus, the cost of developing this NCO is the cost of pyramid of folks that we had to enlist and screen and weed out or simply got out. Given the reality that we are drawing nearly half of our OCS-IS candidates from the E-6 and E-7 ranks, this cost is great. Now, I'd agree that you have to discount this some because the Army is getting a service from these other potential future E-6/E-7s, but you simply cannot just dismiss these costs. Also, if you want to use this model, you have to over-acess to allow your E-6/E-7 ranks to be overstrength, or else you would also have to account for the cost of decreasing the quality of your E-6/E-7 ranks by having your better performers go to OCS.

    Of course, this cost decreases if you select them earlier in their enlisted careers, but then you would see decreasing continuation rates compared to now by OCS-IS.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default There are opportunity costs in eveything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    ...Now, I'd agree that you have to discount this some because the Army is getting a service from these other potential future E-6/E-7s, but you simply cannot just dismiss these costs. Also, if you want to use this model, you have to over-acess to allow your E-6/E-7 ranks to be overstrength, or else you would also have to account for the cost of decreasing the quality of your E-6/E-7 ranks by having your better performers go to OCS.
    Three points:

    - I spent over six years as a PSG -- over three of them as a brand new SSG. Rank is not the issue, competence is -- and competence is absolutely and positively not totally experience or time dependent. It is also noteworthy that was during a time (early 60s) of Officer shortages Army - wide when many rifle Companies in the 82d had only two or three Officers. I had one or another of six platoon leaders for a total of less than two of those almost seven years. That includes six months running a Recon Platoon in Viet Nam. That, incidentally, in an Abn Inf Bn that was less than about 60% strength on Officers. At one point, almost half the Platoons in the Bn had NCOs as acting Platoon leaders and not all of them were PSG E7 types. We also had a 105 By in the Bde with an E5 First Sergeant...

    - Any overstrength should be avoided as it leads to make work and underemployment (and thus morale destroying) problems.

    - In my observation over many years, those NCOs who elected to go to OCS were not the better performers in most cases -- a few certainly were but the majority were only average or even below average performers. Most NCOs were driven to opt for OCS for one of three reasons -- Ambition; Officers live better / increased social status; A true desire to be able to do more and better for the troops (in that order). Obviously there were and are other factors but those were the big three. Many really good and intelligent NCOs did not opt for OCS due to the social issue and the conformity required of officers. Many offered direct commissions turned them down for those reasons and due to the fact they knew they'd most likely get only three years commissioned and that would be it. As an aside, change the rule on 10 years commissioned service and retirement and see what that does.

    As I said, IMO the issue is sheer competence, not competiveness. As Schmedlap said, there's a distinct and obvious need for some high intellectual power and education for some (and I'd add definitely for higher rank) but most Officers are significantly over qualified for the jobs they do. Think about it...

    That may have a lot to do with departures at eight years...
    Last edited by Ken White; 04-03-2009 at 04:29 PM. Reason: Typos

  16. #16
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Wilf,

    You're going to have to school me on some of the historical examples, but in looking at your comment, one Army that currently comes to mind as a model of this is the IDF. However, that is a very imprecise analogy because their mandatory service keeps the pool of potential OCS candidates almost as large as the population.
    I would not presume to school you!

    Sure the IDF is one and the German Army is the other. Sweden has a similar system but I am not sure of the detail.

    The IDF uses Kaba system (כבא) to assess a candidates suitability, and also has a psychology branch who's opinions are taken very seriously. Point is, given anyone you can use modern psychology to assess their potential and then track that against performance.

    To me the biggest advantage of the IDF system is that men generally respect officers far more than in the US or UK army, because they KNOW that the officers are the best of their intake. It could very easily be applied to other armies.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Registered User drschmidt's Avatar
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    Default Officers Retained!

    I have been following the topic of officer retention ever since my ROTC instuctor mentioned what he called the "Captain Crunch" back in 1998.

    I have found some common themes throughout this thread. The posters are:

    - uncomfortable with the Army's assignment methodology (i.e. simply matching faces to spaces regardless of skills or talent)
    - sighting a couple of examples where JO are placed in positions in order to compensate for a poor commander climate.
    - mention that there may be too many officer positions slotted in the Army to begin with.
    - general disappointment among JO during their first duty assignment.

    Please let me know if you think these are common themes throughout this thread. Also, if you feel there are others, please mention them.

    I have read the SSI study and found it to be an interesting read. It partially seeks to dispel the myth that the Army's officer retention woes are due to repeated deployments, family life, and the other factors that are, surprise!, external to the Army's control. If you have not read the entire study please do so. It represents hope that the Army is waking up to the fact that it must look inward to solve its officer retention issues.

    That said, I would propose these changes to how the Army manages its junior officers. This is pretty radical stuff I'm about to say but since I'm just a lowly Captain please bare with me:

    1. Junior officers have exclusive control over their assignments. They interview with the local chain of command and the junior officer determines if the position jives with their officer development aspirations. Junior officers will become solely responsible for their career management.
    2. The Army creates a few slots for Officer Career Counselors at the post or division level in order to work with these JO find a position when they PCS to their first duty assignment. The counselors will continue to work with them for the duration of thier time as a JO. The key here is that the counselors are physically located at the post and are actual, radical concept, real military officers. Senior Captains would be perfect for this.
    3. Eliminate most of the CSS platoon leader positions. Expand the role of the CSS Company XO. The Army assigns way too much importance to the CSS PL position. In the absence of option 1 above, a new 2LT would gain needed logistical experience as a Support Operations staff officer working hand in hand with the SPO (MAJ) and the SPO Staff NCOIC(MSG). Also, the administrative and logistical experience at the BN level can be cultivated before the 2LT takes over the XO position in a CSS company. I know this is a little specialized for this thread but a common question that pops up is does the Army have too many slots for officers or is the Army just short on officers. I believe it's the former of the two.
    4. The advanced course should go from a PCS move to a series of 2 week TDY instruction modules via the internet and in-person training on site at the branch school. The JO will have up to 5 years to complete the advanced course, integrate training with deployment schedules, have more time at home with the family, and rapidly apply knowledge to their organization. Also, if the new CPT is a bright upstart with a future he or she can take command in anticipation of their completion of this composite program.
    5. Create a special developmental program for JOs with engineering and science degrees. If doctors and laywers have this why not engineers and scientist. The SSI paper mentions that one of the reasons why JO exit the service is because their educational skills start lacking behind their civilian counterpart from the day the Army branches them for example HR when they majored in Chemistry. Come on people! We all know somebody like this!

    The SSI paper is painfully lacking on what the Army should do to retain and maximize the potential of its Junior Officers. Please let me know what you think of these ideas and please suggest your own. Thanks!

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