It is a fact that in past years Military Intelligence (MI) has consistently missed the WO accession goals. This condition has significantly increased technical leadership shortages in our units. The Army has recognized this and has enacted many initiatives to correct this situation. As a result there are many positive indicators that point to a reversal in WO shortages. The number of qualified noncommissioned officers (NCOs) applying for the MI WO program has increased. In FY 05, the MI Corps met its WO accession mission for the first time in recent years and this year we expect to meet or exceed last year's numbers. Although not an immediate fix to our shortages, it is a very good thing. I want to thank all of you who contributed to this achievement. The challenge is that we must sustain the recruiting effort for the next two years in order to provide a sufficient number of WOs to support our transforming Army. In the following paragraphs I will explain some of the ongoing initiatives that our leadership is considering in order to alleviate the shortage of WOs.
Direct Appointment Board
For the first time in our Army's history the Secretary of the Army approved a one-time only Department of the Army (DA) centralized direct appointment board for MOS 351E. Direct appointments before 1984 were decentralized. This decision is by no means an optimal solution to the Army's shortage of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Technicians. The decision to convene the board was made based on immediate Army combat contingency needs for HUMINT-skilled officers. The board considered a pool of highly qualified 97E (HUMINT Collector) NCOs for their potential to become WOs. A number of these NCOs were selected and will be assigned to com bat formations upon promotion to WO1.
If you have any of these directly appointed WO1s, please take the time and mentor them and set them on the path to success. Remember, these were highly qualified NCOs that, had they applied for WO, would have been selected. We plan to give them a short transition course while they are here at Fort Huachuca but that is about the only additional officer transition training they will receive.
Critical Skills Retention Bonus (CSRB)
The United States Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca (USAIC&FH) requested the DA G1 to approve CSRBs for senior MI WOs in shortage MOSs. The proposal received the support of the CSA and was approved in May of 2005. The MOSs benefiting from the bonus are 350F (All-Source Intelligence Technician), 351L (Counterintelligence Technician), and 351M (HUMINT Technician). We anticipate requesting additional MI WO specialties at a later date. This CSRB will help curve the drain of senior MI WOs while the Army develops options to fix our accessions and long-term retention challenge.
Warrant Officer Accession Bonus
Last fall, USAIC&FH requested accession bonuses for MI soldiers in shortage MOSs that apply for the WO program and complete WOBC. The MOSs benefiting by the bonus are 350F, 351L, 351M, 352N (Traffic Analysis Technician), and 353T (IEW Maintenance Technician). This accession bonus will mitigate the loss of any reenlistment incentives that NCOs incur when volunteering for any of the officer programs and help attract high quality applicants to the MI WO ranks.
Warrant Officer Pay Reform
With a strong endorsement from the Secretary of the Army, a WO Pay Reform initiative was submitted to the DOD finance committee. This initiative is designed to correct the pay compression between the NCO and the WO pay scales. Although no official decision has been made to date, this action is being worked at the highest levels of DOD.
Shortage of CW4s
It is a known fact that the majority of soldiers (NCO, WO, Officer) retire between 20 and 23 years' active federal service (AFS). There are many reasons for this trend, but it is mostly to start a second career. Because MI NCOs are accessed into the WO program very late in their careers (with eleven to twelve years' AFS), most are CW3s by the time they reach the 20-year retirement point. It is very difficult to "grow" seniors by continuing to access so late.
There are several proposals being considered to correct this trend. Despite many arguments and demands for short-term solutions, the long-term fix is to focus the accession process on the younger NCO population (between 5 and 8 years' AFS). This conclusion was reached by the Total Warrant Officer Study (TWOS)--1984, the Army Development System (ADS) XXI--Warrant Officer Personnel Management System (WOPMS) Study (1999), and the Army Training And Leader Development Panel (ATLDP). I know that this has been a lofty goal in the past. However, it is becoming clear that as a Corps we must start implementing this to insure the long-term health of the WO contingent. I understand that there are many concerns with accessing younger NCOs. Get over it. This is necessary. During a briefing to the Vice CSA in April 2005, he recognized this concern but went to state, "A year of combat experience is worth three years of garrison experience. If you have a promising NCO who wants to be a WO, do not discourage him or her. Call me so we can discuss the requirements.
There are changes coming to the Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS). The course will change in order to give credit to NCOs that have already graduated from any of the NCOES courses. At the center of the WOCS transformation is that, starting in FY06, those NCOs who have completed the Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC) will have the opportunity to forgo the first two weeks of training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. NCOs selected to attend the new WOCS will be required to complete a common core course via distributive learning prior to joining their WOCS class. There are other major design changes in the planning phases as well. This is a significant shift in training methodology at Fort Rucker and is designed to encourage more NCOs to apply for the WO program, as well as provide them constructive credit for similar NCOES experiences. Please inform your soldiers, NCOs, WOs, and Officers of this change.
High quality NCOs may submit waiver requests for a P-2 profile which prohibits them from completing a standard Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) without alternate events and therefore, who today, cannot attend the WOCS course. Although approval is not automatic, this change in policy affords technically qualified NCOs with service related injuries (e.g., combat, Airborne or Air Assault operations, etc.) the opportunity to become WOs in our Army. If you have any questions regarding this option, call me since the details, procedures, and adjudications are made on a case-by-case basis.
In closing, I must point out that the opportunity to become a WO in MI has never been better. Those technically proficient NCOs interested in becoming MI Warrant Officers should immediately contact the Warrant Officer Recruiting team at http://www.usarec.army.mil/hq/warrant/for current application information. I encourage all of you to redouble your recruiting efforts. If you have any questions as to whether an interested NCO meets the criteria, once again ... call me.
Change happens, is not just a saying. Change is constant and necessary. We can drive it or get trampled by it. I need your help--please get involved.
"Remember the past but look to the future"