A Self-Portrait of the Army's Personnel Problems

March 23, 1999

Comment: #246


Email Summarizing Army Personnel Leader's Conference, March 16, 1999. Attached.

The email below, which is surging around the email circuits, summarizes discussions by and comments of senior leadership at the recently completed Personnel Leader's Conference held by the Army (one person told me the location was Ft Monroe, VA). Although it is heavy in jargon, it is worth study, because it provides a good insight into how many of the heavy breathers view the Army's personnel problems.

Chuck Spinney

[Disclaimer: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.]


From: xxxxxx@monroe.army.mil
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 1999 4:53 PM
To: CDTCM Distribution A <CDTCMDistA@monroe.army.mil,
CDTCM Distribution C <CDTCMDistC@monroe.army.mil,
Subject: Personnel Leader's Conference Summary

[Msg begins below discusses observations made by individual named]

* New FM 22-100 coming out soon -- best ever!
* Recruiting facing best ever economy. Delayed entry program is
virtually empty. Opening recruiting options to non-high school
grads--historically 50% don't complete initial enlistment. Exploring
ways to weed out GEDs who will stick with it.
* First term attrition at 37%. Can no longer afford to let
[marginal] soldiers leave the Army. Will change wording in weight
control regulation to read "Cdr may initiate separation procedures."
* Statistics show that "when soldiers do what they came in the Army
to do (deploy), higher percentage reenlist." Percentage drops
dramatically with back-to-back repeat deployments. Need to focus on
quality of life (PERSTEMPO and OPTEMPO).
* Testing selective reenlistment bonus program (up to $20,000) at Ft.
Drum, Ft. Riley, and Ft. Hood. May expand program to target specific
* 4700 unfilled spaces in the enlisted force. Will be short for the
next 2 years while we fix NCO strength and recruiting.
* Emphasis will be directed to Readiness, Recruiting, Compensation,
SISPERS III, and Quality of Life
* Recruiting target will not exceed 2% of CAT IV Soldiers
* Initiatives to retain more soldiers and NCOs in the Army: Longer
stabilizations, SRB Increases (FY96 = 15.1 M; FY99 = 65M), Indefinite
Status to mid career NCOs upon reenlisting, and increased RCPs

SIDPERS 3 -- BG Frost, The Adjutant General
* Most important system in the Army! All installations will have
before 31 Dec 99.
* Fielding has been very successful -- system being constantly
refined in response to issues discovered at initial fielding sights
(like Ft. Bragg). SIDPERS 3 was an 80% solution that could be adjusted
during fielding.
* Biggest lesson learned: SIDPERS 3 must be worked daily by
well-trained clerks.

New OER System -- Mr. Miller, Chief Management Support Division,
* 78,000 OERs received -- 29.6% ACOM. Only 3 misfires. If senior
rater is about to misfire, report is pulled and senior rater is called
and given the opportunity to change the rating.
* Officer with healthy dose of COM reports will be competitive for
promotion to LTC. Candidates for COL will need preponderance of
* New system forces boards to read narratives. Must include at least
one statement about potential at end of narrative.
* "Best Qualified" does not equal ACOM report. COM officers
can/should also be "best qualified." "Fully qualified" sends negative
message to board.
* Senior raters reluctant to give "optional" reports (Sr. Rater
Option and complete-the-record).
* Can't hold reports beyond 90 days -- 1 April 1999 late OER
statistics will again be reported.

PERSCOM CG -- MG Garrett
* USR -- Cdr's comments should hit 2 or 3 major issues in a big way.
Will see new USR format within the year.
* Reasons Army is short:
* CINCOS turned out to be bad idea -- Primarily driven by $. Army
needs to grow NCOs (focus on schooling, boards, etc)
* directed overstrengths take priority
* shortfalls in previous accession years
* structure changes
* distribution challenges
* Units will rarely be at world-wide average in any MOS. Compare
with fill priority instead.
* Watch projections -- promotions not factored in, AIT distribution
not visible until 90 days out, reenlistments not visible.
* Symptom of smaller Army -- "nothing happens that isn't felt by
* One half of all enlisted PCS's are to/from Korea.

DCSPER mtg with G1s -- LTG Ohle
* Compensation issues under consideration including thrift savings
plan, transferable Montgomery GI Bill, additional money ($180) to
soldiers who qualify for food stamps. Each pay raise (3.5%) costs half
a million dollars.
* Number one issue in Army is shortfall of personnel.
* No more 180 day training separations -- harder to put soldiers out.
* Officer shortages
* COL -92
* LTC -251
* MAJ -408
* CPT -1,500 (Army only has 78% of needed BQ CPTs.)
* LT +2,261
* Proposed solutions to CPT shortage
* Send promotable LTs to OAC. Don't wait until promotion to CPT.
* Selective continuation of CPTs 2 time nonselect for MAJ.
* Inviting VSI/SSB's to come back.

Tactical Personnel System -- LTC DeVine, Field Systems Directorate,
* Developing new system for tracking and strength accounting during
deployments. Looks like something we could use. Doug Snyder will
visit the 18th SSG soon and provide COSCOM G1 with test software.

OPMD Readiness Review -- BG Aadland, Director, OPMD, PERSCOM
* Basic branches will not be short to fill functional areas under
OPMS XXI -- only about 30% will move to functional areas.
* 98% of LTs will be promoted to CPT at 42 months in service.
* Reduce premature departures -- we don't have enough people to let
folks out of their service obligations.

Officer and NCO Structure Inventory Balance -- COL Martin, Chief,
Plans Division, ODCSPER
* Drawdown reduced MTOE authorizations dramatically while TDA Army
remained largely unchanged.
* CINCOS was intended to reduce structure to actual NCO levels.
Didn't work. Buyback plan proposes to bring 4,000 NCO positions back
into the Army inventory by FY 2005.
* In FY 98, 31,775 soldiers didn't successfully complete their first
term of enlistment -- 47,083 non-ETS/retirement losses.
* Army projected to be about 6,000 soldiers short of end strength
this FY. Will be undermanned until mid-FY 2000.

MMRB, MEB, PEB -- COL McMillian, Deputy Commander, United States Army
Physical Disability Agency
* Approximately 8,600 cases per year.
* MMRB determines eligibility of soldier to perform in another MOS.
All soldiers do not have to go through MMRB process to be medically
boarded. Should be used when "good soldier" is unable to perform in
current MOS due to physical disability.
* Commander may by-pass the MMRB process for those physically
incapable of "soldiering" by requesting "fit-for-duty physical
evaluation"-- will go directly to MEB which takes about 80 days to
* MEB relies heavily on request of soldier, history of duty
performance and recommendation of the commander in addition to medical
evidence. If soldier has performed well despite physical disability
(particularly if they performed well while deployed and can show that
the physical limitation didn't adversely affect their duty
performance), and if the soldier desires to remain in service and the
command supports that desire, soldier will most likely be allowed to
stay. MEB doesn't automatically mean soldier is being put out of the

* SPC (P) are not attending PLDC; consequently, PLDC training seats
go unfilled. Command emphasis needed to ensure promotable SPCs attend
PLDC soon after they become promotable. Reasons (SIDPERS transactions)
for not attending PLDC must be processed through the servicing PSB *
New OML Priorities: - SGT w/NCOES waiver - SPC (P), met cutoff - SPC
(P) in star MOS - SPC (P) by promotion points - SPC/CPL demonstrating
promotion potential

* Promotion Point Worksheet (DA Form 3355) is under revision.
Revision to be completed in Mar 99. Fielding of new promotion point
worksheet will be late this year. New promotion point worksheet places
more emphasis on soldier involvement/performance.

* Recruiting efforts need to be aimed at "offering something
better". The propensity to serve is very low since the economy is very
* Priorities: Readiness, people, and modernization
* Motivators for new recruits: - $

- Technology
- Quality of Life
- Family values
- Guidance and advice
- Training