Drawdown Lowdown:
9 Things You Need to Know

By Jim Tice and Lance M. Bacon – Staff writers
Posted : Sunday Feb 19, 2012 9:37:41 EST

The drawdown looms large. While the Army is being cagey about exactly how it will shrink to pre-9/11 size, several things have become crystal clear. There is a target list and it’s not as benign as you might think — or hope.

Among those with targets on their backs:

    • 4,000 master sergeants and sergeants major.

    • Practically everyone who’s been in trouble since entering the Army.

    • “Terminal” NCOs.

    • Anyone who is overweight or can’t pass the PT test.

Soldiers will be subjected to:

    • Reclassification or discharge for soldiers in over-strength military occupational specialties.

    • Sharply reduced recruiting missions.

    • Fewer re-up options and bonuses.

And it starts March 1.

In a letter to Army leaders, Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, Army Secretary John McHugh and Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler announced the Army is “fundamentally” changing the active-component retention program. As a result, “some fully qualified soldiers will be denied re-enlistment.”

In a separate letter to enlisted leaders, Chandler was more specific: “The program will shift from retaining as many soldiers as we can to retaining only those soldiers with the greatest potential.

“We are changing the program to ensure we retain an Army that is dominant, fully capable and composed of absolutely the very best; that re-enlistment is a privilege not afforded to all; and that we must shape our Army to meet future requirements,” Chandler wrote.

How will this play out?

Tanks waiting at Port Shuaiba in Kuwait, ready to be shipped home as part of the United States military’s drawdown from Iraq.

It will start in the spring with a series of boards that will take a cold, hard look at personnel files, job performance and MOS quotas.

The fact is, even those soldiers who have performed exceptionally well could be done in by the MOS quotas.

Chandler said the Army will look at every retirement-eligible soldier to identify those who need to stay in uniform. Some will be forced to retire, though they may have years remaining on their current contracts. This careful consideration will begin with the sergeant major board in June.

Here are the details, as announced to date:

1. ENLISTED TENURE RULES
The Army has been tightening the retention control points that determine how long enlisted soldiers can stay in service without being promoted.

The most recent changes reduced the retention control points to these levels:

    Privates and privates first class: From eight to five years.

    Specialists: From 10 to eight years.

    Promotable specialists: From 15 to 12 years.

    Sergeants: From 15 to 13 years.

    Promotable sergeants: From 20 to 15 years.

    Staff sergeants: From 23 to 20 years.

The changes as of last June apply to about 400,000 soldiers of the regular Army and active Guard and Reserve who serve under the Title 10 provisions of federal law.

Retention control points for National Guard soldiers serving in the Title 10 AGR program are:

    Sergeants and below: 20 years of service.

    Staff sergeant: 23 years.

Retention control points for the senior ranks have been adjusted to support changes in the professional development timeline for senior NCOs:

    Promotable staff sergeants: 26 years

    Sergeants first class: 26 years

    Master sergeants: 29 years

    First sergeants: 29 years

    Promotable sergeants first class: 29 years

    Command sergeants major: 32 years

    Sergeants major: 32 years

Extensions out to 35 years are available to command sergeants major who serve in nominative positions under a general officer commander.

2. FEWER ENLISTED PROMOTIONS
The total of active-component soldiers expected to move up in the NCO ranks this year is 6 percent below last year.

In Kuwait, American forces exiting an aircraft newly arrived from Iraq. They were en route to the United States.

A projected total of 44,141 active-component soldiers are to advance to the ranks of sergeant through sergeant major in 2012. That is 6 percent below last year’s total of 47,129 soldiers.

Despite the drawdown, no major personnel authorization changes are planned for 2012, which means there will not be a big slowdown in promotions.

NCO promotion requirements are driven by losses such as retirements and separations in the various specialties of the enlisted personnel system, and pull-through from each lower grade to the next higher grade.

3. NEW RULES FOR SENIOR NCOS
New rules that apply to senior NCO boards that meet this year and for the remainder of the drawdown set increased time-in-grade and time-in-service requirements for promotion, while increasing service obligations for promotions to sergeant major, master sergeant and sergeant first class from two to three years.

The time-in-grade and time-in-service changes are:

    • The TIG requirement for primary zone consideration for sergeant first class and master sergeant in the regular Army and active Guard and Reserve (Army Reserve) has increased from three to four years, and the secondary zone window has increased from two to three.

    • The TIG requirement for sergeant first class, master sergeant and sergeant major promotion eligibility in the non-AGR categories of the Army Reserve has increased from two to three years.

    • The minimum TIS requirement in the non-AGR categories of the Army Reserve has increased from 11 to 12 years for master sergeant consideration, and from 13 to 17 years for sergeant major consideration.

The promotion service obligation applies to soldiers of the regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve.

Because the time-in-grade and time-in-service changes will reduce the number of soldiers considered annually for promotion to master sergeant and sergeant first class, officials expect select rates for these two ranks could increase to 18 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

Key elements of promotion policy during the drawdown are the Army’s strong commitment to the NCO Education System, and a hard-and-fast rule requiring soldiers to complete military schooling before they can be promoted.

The policy requires that soldiers must complete:

    • The Advanced Leader Course to be considered for promotion to sergeant first class.

    • The Senior Leader Course for promotion to master sergeant.

    • The Sergeants Major Course for promotion to sergeant major.

4. PROMOTIONS FOR SERGEANT, STAFF SERGEANT
Promotion-point adjustments as of Jan. 1 put more weight on military education for more than 30,000 specialists, corporals and sergeants on the Army-wide sergeant and staff sergeant selection lists.

The Promotion Point Worksheet is revised so that 40 percent of the points soldiers can earn for military education are related to NCOES achievements such as graduation from the Warrior Leader Course and Advanced Leader Course.

NCOES credits previously were capped at 35 percent of the total score for promotions to sergeant, 32 percent for staff sergeant.

Under the previous scoring system, many soldiers were maxing out the military education section of the worksheet by avoiding NCOES and loading up on correspondence courses and computer-based training.

5. EARLY OUTS FOR ENLISTED
Regular Army enlisted soldiers could be discharged from active duty up to one year before the end of their enlistments under a provision included in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

Under previous law, early outs could occur no earlier than 30 months before the end of a soldier’s enlistment.

Soldiers who receive early outs are not entitled to pay and allowances for the period of enlistment they did not serve, but will qualify for normal separation benefits.

Noting that the legal change was requested by the Defense Department, Congress said the early-out authority should be used to reduce service strength in a responsible manner during the coming drawdown.

At press time, the Army had not indicated if, or when, it plans to exercise the early-out authority.

6. TOUGHER OFFICER PROMOTIONS
After a decade of record-high selection rates, the Army will scale back officer promotion opportunities, returning to levels seen before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Those selection opportunities are:

    Promotion to captain: 90 percent.

    Promotion to major: 80 percent.

    Promotion to lieutenant colonel: 70 percent.

    Promotion to colonel: 50 percent.

“In some instances, we may see promotion rates below these targets to correctly size and shape year groups,” Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said in a recent memo to senior leaders.

Selection opportunity, as defined by the legal statute governing officer management, is calculated by dividing the number of primary-zone candidates by the total number of above-zone, primary-zone and below-zone officers selected by a board.

From 2001 through 2010, selection opportunity averaged 64 percent for colonel, 100 percent for lieutenant colonel and 108 percent for major.

Basic-branch selections for captain typically hovered near 100 percent for lieutenants receiving their first O-3 promotion review.

Odierno’s memo focused on the Army Competitive Category, but any changes for the special branches and warrant officers largely will be influenced by the structure requirements of a small Army, according to Lt. Col. Cape Zemp, chief of Army officer selection board policy at the Pentagon.

“It’s possible that because of adjustments to the structure, selection opportunity — like the basic branches — could decrease for the special branches and warrant officers,” he said. READ MORE

The results of all this means:

    1. A drastic increase in the number of unemployed vets infused into an already dying economy

    2. Serious questions of morale within an already-stretched-too-thin military now serving in way too many places that our President (or the MSM) doesn’t see fit to share with the American people.

    3. Realistically, jeopardizes National Security by reducing ready strength to pre-WWI levels.

It’s one thing if he making cuts across the board, but this is so he can activate another round of bailouts to “Green” entities while refusing genuine opportunities like Keystone pipeline!

United States military vehicles at a storage yard in Kuwait, where they were being prepared for the next stage of their journey.

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