The assignment of our non-branch-qualified (NBQ) captains is very critical to the future readiness of the Engineer Regiment. The objective in assigning NBQ captains is to ensure that each officer is exposed to the full spectrum of engineer assignments which will provide a broad range of experience in preparation for future responsibilities. Each officer must understand the process of an assignment action and the variables that influence the decision. I will focus on assigning officers from the Captain's Career Course (CCC) and discuss initiatives under consideration to improve the assignment process.
Our NBQ captains are assigned from the CCC to major Army commands (MACOMs) based on the unit readiness of subordinate units, the number of officers required by the Officer Distribution Plan (ODP), and when the officer can report to the command. The ODP is the personnel-management directive that determines the number of officers each MACOM receives based on the available population of officers in the Engineer Regiment.
Before we assign any officer from the CCC, we conduct a detailed analysis of each MACOM by reviewing the current number of officers on hand and the known and projected losses and actual gains that impact the command. Each officer in the MACOM is reviewed so that we have the most current information pertaining to his situation and how long he will be on station.
Once we complete this analysis, we determine the number of assignments to the MACOM by comparing the projected number of officers on hand versus the ODP for the time period that we are assigning officers from the CCC. The MACOMs that are projected to fall below the ODP are filled to the ODP first, by unit priority.
We allocate the total number of officers attending the CCC throughout the MACOMs based on the analysis and the preferences submitted. After preparing the assignment slate, we send it to the Officer Distribution Division (ODD), Personnel Command (PERSCOM), for approval. The ODD oversees the personnel accounts of the MACOMs and ensures that they are filled with the required number of officers based on the ODP. We work with the account managers to ensure that each MACOM is filled to the ODP. If it is not, we justify why and state when it will be filled.
Determining an Assignment
After slating is approved, we consider the variables that impact the assignments: personal preferences (potential duty locations and military schools), overseas tour equity, exceptional-family-member-program (EFMP) concerns, professional-development needs, joint domiciles (JD), and others. (Attending the University of Missouri's graduate-degree programs at Rolla or St Louis will not impact the assignment you receive.) During our time with the ODD account managers, we have usually worked out issues pertaining to EFMP and JD.
The first assignments we fill are those overseas because of unit readiness and tour equity. Korea is first, then Europe, Hawaii, Alaska, and other overseas areas. This ensures that all officers receive the same consideration for an overseas tour. Officers returning from an overseas tour to the CCC are not considered for a reassignment overseas unless they volunteer.
Next we fill the stateside locations by priority of fill with officers returning from short tours and all remaining officers in the CCC. Contributing factors that determine who is assigned where are current skills (primarily airborne and ranger), EFMPs, JDs, professional-development needs, and personal preferences. In each CCC class, about 65 percent of the officers request Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Carson, Colorado; or Hawaii as their top three assignment choices. Obviously, there are more officers requesting these assignments than there are positions. The majority of officers assigned to those locations arrive there after a short tour and then request a sequential assignment to that location. So, if there is a particular location that you want, serve a short tour to Korea after the CCC and request a sequential assignment. This allows you to determine when to go overseas and complete a tour early enough when family issues may be less critical or a branch-qualifying assignment isn't critical to your career development.
The critical variable that impacts an assignment is professional-development needs. We want you to experience the full spectrum of engineer operations. Therefore, to broaden your professional development, we generally do not return officers to a duty station where they have already served. If you have a light engineer background, plan for your next assignment to be to a post that offers mechanized or combat-heavy engineer experiences. If you have mechanized experience, your next assignment (if qualified) could be to a post that offers light or combat-heavy engineer experiences. Having officers with diverse backgrounds ensures that the Regiment will have a qualified pool of officers available to meet the demands of tomorrow's Army.
Personnel Management Initiatives
We are studying several initiatives that will better inform officers of assignments, provide a wider array of career opportunities, reduce personnel turnover, and provide stability for our officers and their families. We are reviewing the possibility of assigning officers to the CCC a year in advance upon release of the captain's promotion list. This will allow the leaders in the field to manage their personnel better. Consequently, we can ensure that the MACOMs will have the required number of officers on hand at all times. We will assign the older year groups to the CCC before assigning officers from the promotion list. Officers will still be required to accept or decline the CCC within 30 days of a request for orders being published according to Army Regulation (AR) 350-100, Officer Active Duty Service Obligations; AR 635-100, Officer Personnel; or AR 635-120, Officer Resignations and Discharges.
We work to ensure that officers assigned to Korea receive their station of choice upon return, but are reviewing the option of providing station of choice assignments for NBQ CPTs who volunteer for the 12-month tour to Korea before attending the CCC. Once officers are first lieutenant promotable, they will be able to request the one-year tour to Korea, serve the tour, attend the CCC, and proceed to their station of choice. This would be an opportunity to complete an overseas tour, gain valuable engineer experience, and get a station of choice.
We have started scheduling permanent-change-of-station (PCS) moves for the summer months, where possible, which allows families to plan around the school year. The CCC follow-on assignments are exempt from this initiative.
The personnel community is studying the impact of leaving officers on station for the duration of their tours instead of PCSing them immediately after completing their branch-qualifying position. Also being discussed is making Korea a 24-month accompanied tour.
Stay tuned for more information!
For your benefit, ensure that your contact information (home and duty phone numbers and e-mail and home addresses) is up to date with your assignment officer. Ensure that you have a current photo on file at PERSCOM. Various senior leaders review your file for a variety of reasons (consideration for aide-de-camp, branch selection boards, and other nominative assignments). Many officers have lost an opportunity to make a favorable impression by not having an updated photo in their file.
Contact your assignment officer from time to time. Inform us when you arrive at a duty location and, most importantly, let us know when you take company command. After 6 months of command, give us a call and we can begin to address--with you and your chain of command--follow-on branch-qualified captain assignments. For officers considering advanced civil schooling options, it is best to take your graduate record examination before taking company command. You may not have time during command.
Familiarize yourself with Department of the Army Pamphlet (DA Pam) 600-3, Commissioned Officer Development and Career Management. It's your bible to career success. It contains information on leader development, career timeline, education, functional areas, and career-field designation. We receive numerous inquiries concerning these subjects.
Our NBQ captains are critical to the success of engineer units today, and all leaders must ensure that these officers are trained and ready to lead our Regiment tomorrow. We are committed to giving every consideration to assigning the right officer, with the right skills, to the right unit, at the right time.
Captain Griffin is the branch-qualified-captain assignments officer, Engineer Branch, Personnel Command (PERSCOM). Previous assignments include future-readiness officer, Engineer Branch, PERSCOM; observer-controller trainer, 2d Training Support Battalion (Engineer), 15th Support Brigade; company commander, 58th Transportation Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade; S3 and assistant S3, 46th Engineer Battalion, Warrior Brigade; company executive officer, 84th Engineer Company, 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment; platoon leader, 102d Engineer Company, 199th Separate Infantry Brigade. CPT Griffin is a graduate of the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School and is pursuing a graduate degree from Webster University.
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|Title Annotation:||Personnel Command|
|Author:||Griffin, Captain Ronnie B.|
|Publication:||Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army Engineers|
|Date:||May 1, 2001|
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