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Officer PERSCOM notes.

Strategic Communication: The Army Knowledge Management Strategy

In August 2001, Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White and Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) General Eric K. Shinseki signed a memorandum outlining the goals and direction for Army Knowledge Management (AKM), a strategy to transform the Army into a "network-centric, knowledgebased force." The center of this strategy is the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) portal. AKO is strategically changing the way we do business.

A main feature of AKO is the career lifetime e-mail. With an AKO account, e-mail can be accessed anytime from anywhere around the world. The user can forward messages from the AKO account to a different e-mail address-a regularly used one that is adjusted if the user moves or changes accounts. The AKO e-mail address remains the same no matter how many times the person moves or how many times his other e-mail address changes.

The lifetime e-mail feature is particularly useful for PERSCOM because it can maintain contact with officers in the field throughout their career. The GSA mandated that every soldier would have an e-mail address through AKO by 1 October 2001; however, less than 5 percent of engineer officers have an address on record at PERSCOM. You can help the Engineer Branch achieve this goal by sending us your AKO e-mail address today.

AKO has other services in the works. Soon, all soldiers will be able to review their Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), online, through AKO. Currently, majors going before the FY02 lieutenant colonel promotion board can review their files online. Accessing your files through AKO will eventually eliminate the process of requesting a microfiche, which can take weeks for a response. For more information on AKO capabilities and services, go to To apply for your AKO account, go to

To support the CSA's strategy for AKM, the Engineer Branch has upgraded its home page to improve information distribution to the Engineer Regiment (see Figure 1). We have added assignment information, the Engineer Branch Brief, professionaldevelopment guidelines, frequently asked questions, and other useful information. At a minimum, we update monthly. Many of your questions can be answered by simply going to Check the Website periodically to stay connected and informed. If you have suggestions for improving the home page, call the Web page manager at (703) 325-0766.

Lieutenant Colonel Assignments

Lieutenant colonels must know what they want to do and where they want to go before contacting the assignment officer. Their long- and short-term goals in those areas are important factors in determining assignments. A realistic assessment of promotion and command potential can save a lot of stress and frustration in the assignment process. The lieutenant-colonel population consists of about 420 officers who are managed based on lieutenant-colonel command potential. Assignments are based on which track an officer falls under: command or noncommand.

Command Track

Engineer lieutenant colonel commands are 24 months. Officers who are successful in command can expect to be assigned to a former battalion command (FBC) position. Conditions and priorities change, but typical FBC assignments include the Engineer School, Pentagon, PERSCOM, and Joint positions. About 90 percent of former battalion commanders will attend senior service college 2 to 3 years after completing command.

Noncommand Track

Officers not on the command track can expect to be assigned as a professor of military science; director of public works; deputy district engineer; instructor; staff officer for the Joint staff, Department of the Army staff, or installation or MACOM staff; or in multiple positions in the Active Component/Reserve Component (AC/RC). They are still competitive for promotion to colonel and should plan their career accordingly. Please contact the Engineer Branch for a file assessment.

Assignment Considerations

Officers should consider the following before talking to an assignment officer about their next assignment:

* Priority: location or position.

* Current time on station.

* Overseas vulnerability (6 to 10 years).

* Preference: short- or long-tour overseas.

* Personal desires and family considerations.

* Exceptional Family Member Program.

Army requirements have priority. However, the more an assignment officer knows about the individual officer and his/ her family situation, the better the chances are that the officer's personal and professional needs will be met.

POC is Major Jeff Freeland, lieutenant colonels' assignment officer, Engineer Branch, OPMD, PERSCOM.

Major Assignments

Engineer majors are unique in the assignment process. Their time as a major is fast and furious, but if they maintain contact with their assignment officer and stay motivated, they can meet all requirements and remain competitive for lieutenant colonel. Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-3, Chapter 16, paragraph 16-3, d.(3) (a) specifies 12 months as the minimum required for branch qualification. However, recent board statistics place the average time for officers selected for promotion to lieutenant colonel far greater than the minimum. Our goal is to position engineer majors at locations so they get 24 months of branch-qualifying time. PERSCOM does not pinpoint officers to branch-qualifying jobs; it assigns officers to a MACOM, which will establish when an officer goes into a branch-qualifying job and in what unit that officer will serve. The key to ensuring that you get enough branch-qualifying time to be competitive for lieutenant colonel is to complete military education level (MEL) IV, either resident or nonresident, no later than 36 months before your lieutenant colonel promotion board. This allows the Engineer Branch ample time to position you at a location to get branch-qualified.

You are the best manager of your career. The Engineer Branch is here to assist and provide guidance. The PERSCOM and Engineer Branch home pages contain valuable information to assist you in this process. To help manage your career effectively, we must have current contact information, which includes home and work telephone number, home address, and an AKO e-mail address. Maintaining current contact information will also assist us with the assignment process. Assignments become available on a cyclic basis (see Figure 2, page 52).

As the Army continues to transition, engineer-assignment priorities will change to support this transition. Every officer should maintain situational understanding of the Army's future. The Engineer Branch will assist every officer with professional-development opportunities to be successful through this transition. Maintaining contact with us and staying informed of the Army's future will greatly assist in this process.

POC is Major Dave Holbrook, majors' assignment officer, Engineer Branch, OPMD, PERSCOM.

Captain Assignments

Following company command, an officer can expect to be assigned to a developmental position where there is an Army and engineer requirement for a branch-qualified captain. These positions range from an observer-controller or trainer at one of the combat training centers or in an AC/RC unit, to a company commander or operations officer in the U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC). Opportunities also exist to serve in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) as an assistant professor of military science or operations officer and in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a project engineer.

Branch-qualified captains are a vital but short resource. Requirements for branch-qualified captains usually exceed the number of available officers. This shortfall of captains, coupled with the critical nature of the requirements, creates a level of anxiety for the officer being assigned and the assignment officer during the assignment process. Much of the anxiety is based on false perceptions in the field of common branchqualified captain assignments.

The most common misperception is that a "3R" (AC/RC, USAREC, ROTC) assignment hurts an officer's potential for promotion, schooling, and battalion command. Almost 75 percent of branch-qualified engineer captain assignments are in this category, so almost every officer can expect a 3R assignment.

AC/RC and USAREC assignments foster the most concern from officers in the field; however, they are critical Army missions to which PERSCOM assigns the best officers. Congress mandates the filling of AC/RC units, and General Shinseki made recruiting his number one mission-essential task. Accomplishing the AC/RC and USAREC mission is vital for ensuring that our Army continues to fight and win the nation's wars decisively.

Three thoughts: First, 3R assignments are developmental positions that prepare an officer for increased responsibilities as a field grade. They provide an excellent opportunity to positively impact the future of our Army and Corps. Second, successful company commanders have proven that they can lead, train soldiers, and accomplish the mission. The challenge becomes sharing their experience with others so they may accomplish future missions for the Army. Third, if an officer is at risk for promotion, 99 percent of the time that risk was determined before or during company command. Rarely is the officer's current command responsible for the officer not getting promoted. Successful completion of company command is the best indicator of future success.

A 3R assignment itself has no negative bearing on promotion, schooling, and battalion command. Consecutive nontroop assignments, average company command OERs, and/ or an overall center of mass performance will adversely affect potential. Therefore, it is important for the officer to do well in every job--for his and the Army's long-term success.

POC is Captain Ronnie Griffin, branch-qualified captains' assignment officer, Engineer Branch, OPMD, PERSCOM
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Publication:Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army Engineers
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Previous Article:The evolution of the engineer force: part I.
Next Article:Enlisted PERSCOM notes.

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