The U.S. Army has announced a new directive that will lower the threshold for Soldier force-outs (or separations). As Army Times reports, starting October 1, Soldiers with poor performance or misconduct issues and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in abundant military occupational specialty (MOS) positions will face new rules if they want to continue serving.
NEW "BAR TO CONTINUED SERVICE" STANDARDS
Soldiers with indefinite reenlistments will now be subject to new performance and conduct standards. If these standards are not met, commanders will be able to place a "bar to continued service" on these Soldiers and Soldiers transitioning to the Army Reserve. "The bar ensures soldiers that agree to a career in the military maintain quality throughout their career," said Sgt. Maj. LeeAnn Connor, the senior Army career counselor. "They're held to the same standards that any other soldier is held to." Currently, Soldiers with indefinite reenlistments and reserve Soldiers are not vulnerable to bars of continued service (which was previously known as "bar to reenlistment").
Examples of Soldier misconduct/poor performance are found in Army Regulation 601-280:
- Arriving late to formations and assigned duties
- Lacking personal appearance and hygiene
- Going AWOL for more than an hour (and up to 24 hours)
- Misplacing clothing or equipment
- Failing two consecutive fitness tests
- Accumulating frequent traffic violations
For Soldiers who are barred but want to transition to the Army Reserve, they will have to receive a waiver from their commander. The new directive is meant to establish a consistent performance standard for all Soldiers, including those in our reserve component.
Additionally, there will be other changes to enlistment policies. NCOs will not face further evaluation in the Qualitative Management Program (QMP) and the Qualitative Service Program (QSM). Starting October 1, staff sergeants and sergeants first class who have failed to attend their required NCO education courses will now screened by the QMP. Similarly, staff sergeants and above with two or more years' time in their rank and more than 18 months from their retention control point can be screened by the QSM. This is to identify and potentially separate NCOs in specialty areas who have not advanced due to performance or because their specialty is in overstrength.
The Army will also rename indefinite reenlistment program the "Career Status Program." Previously, this program allowed staff sergeants and higher with 10 years of service to reenlist indefinitely, which allows Soldiers to serve at their current rank until their retention control point (RCP). Starting October 1, that threshold will be raised to 12 years.
"All soldiers must be relevant and ready professionals with potential for future service. This standard also applies to career soldiers," Connor explained. "The stigma with the indefinite reenlistment program was that NCOs could stay in the Army for an unlimited amount of time [until they reached RCP]. Career soldiers must lead from the front, continue to maintain all soldier standards, and have a positive impact in today's Army in order to merit a lasting tenure."
PRESSURE TO REDUCE
While the Army's position on the new retention directive appears to be focused on performance and raising standards among to the ranks, there is no ignoring the fact that service has been under intense Congressional pressure to reduce its numbers. The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review has mandated that the Army reduce active-duty Soldiers to 450,000 by the end of 2018. The goal by the end of 2016 is to maintain 475,000 active-duty soldiers. A report from earlier this year showed that that number was currently at 482,000.
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