Posted on Nov 14, 2014
SSG Comsec Account Manager
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Note: This is as much a rant as it is a question.

Some back story to this thought: A couple of years ago when I attended ALC at Fort Gordon, I was extremely upset with what the Army had done at the time: filled the 25B SSG/SFC ranks with a lot of people who just didn’t get it. This is a general rule, some (10% or less) are fantastic signaleers. As a 25B that started as an E1, my opinion is many of these people should not be carrying the MOS. They are not technically capable, lack the desire to become better signaleers, and frankly, they killed ANY opportunity that many of us who have worked from nothing to get promoted to the Senior ranks. Now (again in my opinion) the 25B ranks are filled with people whose common monikers are "It’s not my MOS" (indicative of a signaleer who just doesn’t want to learn) or "I need the FSR" (indicative of someone whose lazy).

Fast forward a year or two and the Army fields 25D. A technical MOS to rival all others in the signal community. The ability to get promoted. The requirements to get in are tough, but do-able. You can't arbitrarily re-enlist for this MOS. By selection only. The training and certifications that are published makes a technically capable and aspiring NCO's mouth water with anticipation. It was a beautiful.

I worked hard to get accepted. I needed to raise my GT and ST scores by 1 and 2 points respectively. I met all other requirements. So I did, applied, and was accepted (apparently without having a single problem through the selection process). My packet was reviewed by many people before I submitted it, and was informed I was a shoe in to this new up and coming field.

Then the OCOS releases an email stating the following, in general terms: We are re-vetting all denied 25D packets for maximum flexibility. Sergeants who graduate the 25D training will be automatically promoted to Staff Sergeant. Directives to "...open the aperture, while ensuring we are accepting candidates with unquestionable character and potential."

This sounds good? I don’t think so. There are several philosophical problems here.

1) If the selection process is changed to allow "maximum flexibility" and already denied packets are now allowed through, aren’t we just filling the ranks with either lazy (didn’t see fit to do the hard work necessary to make it) or semi/incapable people who don’t understand it?

2) Opening the selection criteria to accept candidates with unquestionable character and potential! Doesn’t it seem like if these potential personnel had the potential, it would be seen in their packet? NCOER's, Technical Certifications and Letters of Recommendation all serve to make this point. I just broke 10 years. In that time I have earned 5 Industry certifications, working on my 6th and have NCOERs that reflect my drive and desire to cross train into other signal MOSs. Many 25B have only gone on to earn the minimum certification to do their job, and lack drive to do more. Is this "unquestionable character"? Is this great potential? No, it isn't. This is meeting the minimum requirements. No motivation to do more. How is this good character? Or even potential? Do we really want these "do the minimum" personalities and the leading edge of Cyber Defense, protection our nations Networks?

3) Auto-promoting to Staff Sergeant! The Army has seen, time and time again, what auto promotions have done to NCOs in the Army. Just because someone may have graduated a signal school (I use graduated loosely, having been to what the Signal School considers “Education”) doesn’t mean that these people have the capability to be Staff Sergeants. If OCOS is “opening the aperture” for people, that could mean that the ALC requirement can be waived. Following this thought then, a brand new Sergeant can go to 25D school, potentially graduate and get promoted to Staff Sergeant, all in the same year.

To me, this looks like the OCOS doing the same thing over again. Water down a very cool MOS with people who otherwise wouldn’t make it. Now those of us who did meet the very high, very stringent requirements will have to compete for coveted positions and promotions with potentially less than capable people. Just wait. Inside of 5 years the standard monikers for 25D may very well be “Its not my MOS” or “I need the civilians”.

There are possible solutions other than the ones listed above to meet the stringent selection requirements while also not diluting the new field. One idea is multifaceted. The Army has several systems in place already where we have to share technical abilities, the Army Training and Certification Tracking System, ATCTS. If the Army adds a section for Soldiers with IT backgrounds from the Civilian Sector to upload their work reviews, OCOS and HRC can then see who all may be qualified. While they are at it, release an ALARCT/MIPLPER message ordering all personnel with certifications to upload those into ATCTS, regardless of current position. After that OCOS and HRC can do a force wide scrub of all personnel and either a) send off emails to prescreened personnel or b) DA select personnel to take the In Service Screening Test and force reclassification to personnel who have enough time left to meet the time in service requirement. The Army has used this tactic or similar tactics in the past. Why not use it now, instead of watering down this field with mediocre people.

Another thought is allowing people to reclass and sending them back to their duty stations if they wish to do so. It is not stated clearly anywhere that this is an option. I bring it up because a very capable NCO that works for me would reclass IF he can come back here to Fort Hood. He’s been on station for less than a year, and this would seem like a plausible recruitment option. If we think about it, where there is one with this thought, there are very likely more.

If recruiting the not quite capable is the only option, then we should implement a probationary period of 12-18 months. If they fail the probationary period, proven by evaluations and technical testing, then they should be removed from the MOS and put out or reclassed.
Posted in these groups: Images %2831%29 CyberShutterstock 131444195 Signal
Edited 7 y ago
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SSG Instructor/Writer
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Working at Fort Gordon, in 442 where this class is taught, I can tell you that anyone who comes to this program with the crappy mentality you have described will completely and utterly fail. The whole course is slam packed with 7 days a week instruction and rigorous training for industry certifications that will make your head explode.

Don't waste your time fretting about entry requirements, because this course isn't your run-of-the-mill Army course.
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SFC Ricardo Ruiz
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SSG Engagement Control Team Leader
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1. The reason for the loosening of criteria is due to force requirements. The Army has to field the positions it has created, and they are having difficulty finding well qualified personnel who are interested in reclassing. Some of the criteria such as the industry certification and security clearance is set in stone, but other criteria such as GT score and experience can be lowered to help meet the requirement. The majority of people who will be affected by this change are those who are coming from other branches that may not have documented IA experience. Making the GT score waiverable makes sense because the GT requirement for most things can be waived 3-5 points anyway.

2. You can't measure character and potential with just paper. With deployments and high op-tempo not everyone has the opportunity to take FAST class to up their GT score or spend time on non-required certifications. From my understanding, many packets were denied based off the lack of documented IA experience not because a lack of character or potential.

3. The auto-promotion to staff-sergeant is based on the Special MOS Alignment Promotion Program (SMAPP). It requires that members meet all requirements for promotion include TIS/TIG requirements. Furthermore, they are currently only accepting SGT(P) for 25D. This will mostly affect people that have an MOS that is maxed in points and isn't really a big deal.

The ATCTS idea would take a lot of time and money and I doubt it will be very effective in recruitment. Most people who qualify and are interested in doing the job have already submitted packets. Trying to force people to reclass makes no sense as they wouldn't be motivated to perform their best.

Right now they are working on fielding the cyber brigade. Once those slots are filled they will likely start sending people to other locations. That being said, if your NCO is so stuck on spending one more year at specific duty location that he passes up this opportunity I don't know what to say to him. Even if you were to reenlist for this school it would be either option 1 or 3 and you couldn't get duty location. If he is really stuck on that he can always call the 25D proponent and ask about duty locations.

There is no way the Army is going to spend tens of thousands of dollars training someone then waste that training. Just like any other job if someone is unable to perform their duties there are administrative actions that can be taken to remove them, but a built in system that encourages leaders to weed out people makes no sense financially.
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SSG Comsec Account Manager
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1. When the army lowered the standards for 25B, the MOS became crap. 90% of the people who made it in at the time couldn’t grasp the concepts. The MOS became saturated with people who just couldn’t get the job done in an adequate manner, and when they saturated the MOS, suddenly those of us who could do the job at least adequately couldn’t get promoted. The reason for this: The Army wanted to fill the ranks. By lowering the standard, yes, it filled the ranks. And subsequently saturated the IT field knowledge base so much it’s thinner than water. The E7/8/9 ranks are NOT filled with people who have the required knowledge base and fenced in the people who do have the knowledge to the point that they WONT fill those positions. It perpetuated a high level of ignorance in the senior ranks. By lowering the standards for the 25D, they are creating the same situation.

2. If you can’t prove that you have the knowledge base, then you should apply for the job. If what everyone is saying about the course is true, then simply going to the course WITHOUT a provable background, people will likely be doomed to failure. The acceptance criteria did state that civilian experience qualified. This would be a huge loss in funds if they got to the course and failed. Im not certain what the attrition rate is, but I’ve heard its high even with experienced people. How bad would the attrition rate be if people who couldn’t prove they had a background get there and fail out?

3. Making the GT score waiverable is still lowering the standards. Often times it was far easier to get a fast class while deployed than it is to get in one while CONUS. Fast classes and self-study to improve the score proves out a couple of things that would be very useful to this new field. The first is that someone that is willing to FIND the time to do it proves drive and motivation to succeed. It is reasonable to think that by lowering the standard or making it waiverable will dilute the value of the training and worth of the course. It will become saturated by the mediocre. Personally, I self-studied, took the TABE exam, scheduled for the test and took it…in two weeks. I had the drive and motivation to meet the standards and not be among the mediocre.

I can’t argue with you regarding ATCTS. I was merely trying to provide a solution. The best answer is to not change the standards. It is better to accept a fewer, highly capable team than it is to accept a slightly capable team just because you want to make “numbers”

It makes more sense to build a system that encourages leaders to weed out other people makes perfect sense, especially now that the wars are over. The Army is doing it anyway, with all of the boards to drop NCOS with issues. It is weeding out those they don’t want. Why not weed out those who are also not driven or motivated. Get rid of those that are merely hanging around for a paycheck or not improving their careers. It takes a huge military full of people who are hanging out and overshadowing the greats and allows the greats to shine. In the case of this field, let the greats shine while leaving the unmotivated, un-driven, mediocre people to fill the fodder positions.
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SSG Engagement Control Team Leader
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I definitely understand where you are coming from, but you have to see it from the Army's perspective. They have put in place all the plans and funding for everything and now they need to ensure they have enough personnel to meet those needs. The mission isn't going away. They did a risk assessment and now they have the option of either have an extremely undermanned force trying to do the job or potentially allowing a few borderline qualified individuals in. Looks like the army decided that having someone in the spot is better than no one. I still think you exaggerating the situation a bit. Every single person needs to have at least an IAT II certification, a TS clearance, 8 years TIS, and be an experienced NCO. Even with slightly lowered standards I doubt there will be many incompetent people who qualify and the course will hopefully weed out the ones that do.

On a side note, when are you scheduled for class?
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