Posted on Dec 2, 2015
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http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/capitol-hill/2015/12/02/military-promotions-overhaul-ideas/76663106/

Now that Congress has updated military retirement benefits to be closer to private-sector offerings, outside experts are hoping lawmakers will do the same for the armed services’ promotion and personnel systems.

“This is not about one particular constraint, it’s about the idea that everyone’s (military) career should look the same,” former Defense Undersecretary for Personnel David Chu told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. “We’re grooming all our officers to be chief of staff. They’re not all going to do that. But many are looking for a career in middle management that they can perform for a long period of time.”

Wednesday’s hearing is part of a larger effort by the committee to consider holistic reforms throughout the Defense Department, including talking to internal and external experts about ways to improve acquisition, readiness and fiscal responsibility.

Committee chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the personnel reform issue hits all of those other areas.

“The question is whether our military is able to recruit and retain so many excellent Americans because of its personnel system, or in spite of it,” he said. “I am concerned that, all too often, it is the latter.”

Former defense officials testifying Wednesday said the decades-old promotion and assignment systems in the military are well overdue for an update. Forcing out talented individuals too early leaves offices without experienced leaders. Letting others stay too long stifles innovation and productivity.

The solution, Chu and others said, is to move away from the Pentagon’s one-size-fits-all model for promotions and recruiting.

“We need to manage individual careers that make sense for each career,” said Bernard Rostker, who preceded Chu in the Pentagon personnel role. “We need to tell [the] manager of each department that each of these groups should have a career structure that makes sense for that group.”

That could mean lifting mandatory retirement rules for experienced acquisition officers, Rostker said, and allowing some midcareer specialists to stay in place even without rank advancement. It could also mean quicker outprocessing for certain combat posts, where youth and fitness are a higher priority than experience.

The services already do some of that, in medical and supply specialties. “There are other ways to do this,” Chu said. “They aren’t being used aggressively.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has hinted at such plans with his “Force of the Future” initiatives, but lawmakers say they worry that those proposed changes don’t go far enough to shape the force to be prepared for future threats.

Fellowships and sabbaticals outside the military bring new ideas into the ranks, according to former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. But such plans are ideal in only specific circumstances, and don’t provide real reform in the military’s archaic career structure.

He said military leaders need to find ways to value skill over longevity and “give people latitude to make mistakes,” two philosophies that aren’t supported by the current rigid military promotion system.

Both lawmakers and the experts acknowledged that diagnosing the problem is easier than developing long-term solutions. But they said military leaders need to keep having those discussions to prevent making an already difficult recruiting job even harder, and to keep skills critical to national security from being dominated by private sector companies.
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SGT David T.
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Looks like they are wanting a more individualized approach. I think it would be really cool if the military side did like the civilians and put the individual in charge of his or her own career. If someone wants to sit as an E-4 and they perform well in that role, why should they be pushed into being a NCO?
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SGT Writer
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That would be an interesting concept - SPC ranks become fragments of the E-4 pay grade.
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SGT David T.
SGT David T.
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SGT (Join to see) - I never liked the Army's up or out policies. There are some troops that are amazing Specialists but have no potential to be good NCOs. I disagree that leadership can be taught as a blanket statement. I think in order to have a good leader you need something to start with...a block of clay if you will. That clay can be molded and shaped but it is still clay. Some troops are simply dried up Play Doh and will only ever be that. They may be great at being dried up play doh but that will never make them a block of clay.
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"Polish a turd, it's still a turd." - Peanut / Jeff Dunham.
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SGT David T.
SGT David T.
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SGT (Join to see) - Basically lol
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LTC Msc Proponency Officer
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Need to be careful as we go forward. The changes to the retirement system (401K) are going to have an impact on retention and continuation rates. We don't know what they'll be until we get there and see how the force reacts.
Our current promotion system (DOPMA) is based on the ability to promote to vacancy, or vacancies at the next grade plate. What drives the vacancies? Retirements/ Voluntary/ Involuntary Separations, and those getting promoted to the next rank etc. One of the biggest drivers for folks getting out is failure to be selected for promotion, the next is mandatory retirement/Separation times.
The number of people you can have (Total force and by rank) is ultimately bound by the $$. If you think getting promoted now is hard, create conditions for folks to stagnate (increase mandatory separation time etc) and the vacancies will quickly dry up, thus less promotions. Plenty of 2nd and 3rd order effects to consider. Unfortunately, this is not a "Social Experiment" its our National Security.
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LTC Stephen F.
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SSG(P) (Join to see) I did not specifically know about this current attempt by the Senate to overhaul the military promotion system. They have tried many times in the past to overhaul most aspects of the military personnel system.
It is interesting that they seem to consider the promotion system "as outdated and overly focused on schedules compared to merit." I thought below the zone promotions certainly varied the schedules. Granted the OER and to some extent the NCOER inflated ratings culture seemed endemic while I was in uniform. The system changes but changing a culture is a completely different requirement.
[Notice his response was to a discussion started by COL Mikel J. Burroughs which seems to have been merged with this discussion without including our responses.]
Gentlemen I did not see you comments to be merged into this discussion: COL Vincent Stoneking SSG Trevor S.
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