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Old 04-02-2009   #1
Shek
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Default Towards a U.S. Army Officer Corps Strategy for Success

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

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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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Old 04-02-2009   #2
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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:
Quote:
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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Old 04-02-2009   #3
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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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Old 04-02-2009   #4
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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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Old 04-02-2009   #5
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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:
Quote:
"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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Old 04-02-2009   #6
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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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Old 04-02-2009   #7
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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:

Quote:
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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Old 04-02-2009   #8
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Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
Has anyone developed a mechanism to assess talent, especially among adolescents we want to recruit?
When I was a Lieutenant, we LT's generally knew who among us were the top performers and who were the bottom of the barrel. Ditto when I was a Captain. The Soldiers also had a pretty good idea of who they were comfortable following into combat.

As for those whom we want to recruit, I would have to say that the same was true in ROTC. We knew who the top performers were and those individuals went on to be very good officers. The guys whom we knew were sub-par went on to be sub-par officers.

Regarding the assessment of talent prior to ROTC/USMA/OCS - not sure. Anyone can get someone to write them a good letter of recommendation. And grades/APFT scores are certainly not a reliable indicator from what I've seen.
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Old 04-02-2009   #9
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Default OK, guys

Go back to pg 15

"Talent goes beyond attitude or desire, beyond will and skill, beyond tolerance, compassion, values and character...Talent, however, adds the critical dimensions of intelligence, of aptitudes for rapid learning and adaptation..."

How do we measure that for either the assession or retention phase?

Most of us have survived several, if not numerous, permutations of the OER system. As I recall, even those forms that made attempts to address varied attributes soon morphed into "bricks". If any officer was less than 100% in any of the specified areas, s/he was a dirtbag. All -- or nothing.
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Old 04-02-2009   #10
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Default Schmedlap's points are well considered.

All are, IMO, totally correct. The first one bears some thought -- some will dismiss it. I suggest that would be a mistake because that's really what it's all about -- or is supposed to be...

Shek provided this quote from the Paper:
Quote:
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 Armyís shortages at the rank of major and lieutenant colonel.
True -- and a function of NOT identifying enlisted talent early on but letting it self select. That's a function of many things, not least the that system we call the Army is stifling to an extent and it takes some guys a few years to develop the self confidence to give a commission a try. One cannot say the Army discourages OCS but it certainly does little in peace time to encourage it. Nor is the Army very good about offering direct commissions to outstanding NCOs (other than when forced by war time crunches), insisting that they go through the hassle that is OCS. It also says something about the way those folks know their background is looked upon by the senior officer selection boards...

Short comment: the processes can be significantly improved IF the Army wishes to do so...

Cav Guy once made the statement that he saw very little difference at the Captain level with regard to source of commission. I agree and would add that pretty well holds true up to LTC in my experience. Since everyone cannot be a General in any event...

Old Eagle as always raises some great questions:
Quote:
Is the current OER system a reflection of talent? If not, what is? What can be?
As an only infrequent and long departed participant in the process, I can only say that in 1995 it absolutely did not -- it identified occasional water walkers and tons of excellent Officers plus an occasional miscreant. "What is?" Far more difficult. I'm inclined to trust the subjective judgment of seniors (I trust), peers (I trust) and even subordinates (I trust). Hmmm. I seem to have a problem...

As to what can be, the OER isn't that bad, the process has just gotten corrupted. Some years ago the Chief of OPD proposed a new OER -- just like the old OER except that the name and signatures of the Rater and Senior Rater were moved to the back page and the intent was that would not be shown Promotion Boards. The Board would see the rating but would not know who the Raters were. That idea got rave reviews as it was staffed -- until it hit the first General Officer in DCSPER. It was immediately killed. Still a good idea, though...
Quote:
Is there a statistically sound qualitative breakout of what talent is leaving the Army?
Not to be Clintonian but 'define talent.' My suspicion is that to get an agreement on what constitutes 'talent' will be exceedingly difficult. I'd want a guy or gal who wasn't afraid to take chances, think odd thoughts or to speak out -- others would want academic prowess, still others social conformity and risk avoidance...
Quote:
Has anyone developed a mechanism to assess talent, especially among adolescents we want to recruit?
That's the crux of it. The Paper has some good points -- but they need to better define 'talent' and then determine a mechanism to identify it.

Shek also said:
Quote:
...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).
The Officer corps the authors describe is an ideal state in their view -- others may have differing ideas. For example, they seem to imply that all should be capable of obtaining advanced degrees. While I do not question the need for some -- even many such -- I do strongly question whether all should have them. I also suggest that a look at Command tracks and Staff tracks has merit, that 'up or out' unnecessarily discards a lot of competence and ask if a Company Commander is really in need of an advanced degree. Long way of saying I do not agree with the statement that the enlisted pool will not have enough talent but acknowledge that the definition of talent is key.

I'd also ask on what basis OCS becomes the most expensive commissioning process?
Quote:
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...
Easily solved -- don't pick dummies that cannot be educated to the necessary degree (note I did not state the currently preferred degrees. Pun intentional). I'll also apologize for using the word 'dummies' -- gave a connotation that begged to be exploited. Perhaps I should've said 'untertiarily educated,' 'unwashed' or something along that line.
Quote:
Nonetheless, I would hope that our pre-commissioning sources are able to cull out the unmotivated with the rare exception.
Can't speak for today, I'm not around the system that often -- but I can speak for the period 1949-1995 and can assure you that IMO the success rate was never more than about 60-70%. Some of those had other motivations aside from just being good soldiers and officers -- and every officer is first and foremost a soldier (or should be), add those to the 30+% who weren't motivated along that line at all but had other, usually personal situation improvement related, motivations and you get about a 50+% net success rate.

In defense of my position I offer, Shek again:
Quote:
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.
Does that statement, if true, not raise the questions of "How motivated were they?" or "What were their real motivations in seeking a commission?"

It also highlights the Author's real issue -- talent as opposed to numbers; talent as opposed to better assignments. Thus my comments about selecting truly motivated folks and shortfalls being preferable to overages.

Further, that last quote from Shek illustrates what I (and lots of others) have long contended -- the system is entirely too competitive. It should not be based on competitiveness but rather on competence. It is not
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Old 04-02-2009   #11
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Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
How do we measure that for either the assession or retention phase?
But I will defer to others for a while...
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Old 04-02-2009   #12
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I don't think that the goal should be measuring aptitude, selecting candidates, and screening out people for the job during the recruitment phase. That seems unrealistic to me and carries too much risk of losing people who might be good leaders but whose traits, for whatever reason, do not register in the screening process.

I think one positive change would be to use commissioning sources as a weeding out process for the bottom performers. Remember peer evaluations in Ranger School? Garbage, in my opinion. Anybody can shine while the spotlight is on them for a little while. But to use peer evaluations in a setting where people live, work, study, hang out together for long periods of time - like in military school - that is a great place to use peer evaluations. You know everyone, you know what motivates them, you know if they are ethical, trustworthy, et cetera. Peer evaluations have long been used in OBC, ROTC, et cetera, but they have largely been tools to give students feedback. I think ROTC/USMA students should have peer evaluations within their schools. If, in your last semester prior to commissioning, you are ranked bottom of the barrel by the vast majority of your peers, then you may want to seek out a different career path.

Ditto Captains coming up for command. If you've been in the Brigade for long enough to get your turn in the command queue, I think any Captain, Major, or LTC who has been around you for a year or more should have some say in whether they think you're ready to command. If they give you low marks, then you shouldn't take command unless the battalion commander really, for some reason, wants to put you in command of one of his companies. I've never seen a Captain whom everyone thought was a dud go on to successfully command. He either gets relieved or he's a headache for the unit until he reaches the one-year mark and he then gets hussled along to a new job.

Last edited by Schmedlap; 04-02-2009 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 04-03-2009   #13
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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.

Now, ready, aim, fire, let me have it......
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Old 04-03-2009   #14
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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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Old 04-03-2009   #15
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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.
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Old 04-03-2009   #16
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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.
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and directing them to officer corps.
Who has more value?
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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.
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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.
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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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Old 04-03-2009   #17
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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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Old 04-03-2009   #18
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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.
Someone correct me if I am wrong, but isn't this what the Navy Limited Duty Officer program is all about?

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Old 04-03-2009   #19
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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.
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Old 04-03-2009   #20
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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:

Quote:
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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