Lt. Gen. David G. Perkins, left, is commander of the Combined Arms Center, Perkins said the new Intermediate Level Education selection procedures take effect with the convening of the fiscal 2013 Army Competitive Category majors board. (Army)
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A selection board will now decide which officers attend the Intermediate Level Education courses at the Command and General Staff College. All active-component officers of the basic branches will receive ILE schooling, but the new selection process will be competitive, especially for enrollment in the 10-month resident course at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
The rules take effect Oct. 15.
Since the adoption of universal ILE in the late 1990s, scheduling for school attendance largely has been a function of an officer's career management branch.
Lt. Gen. David G. Perkins, commander of the Combined Arms Center, said new ILE selection procedures take effect with the convening of the fiscal 2013 Army Competitive Category majors board.
In addition to considering basic-branch captains for promotion, the board will designate officers in year group 2004 — the prime cohort for promotion consideration — for ILE attendance at one of the following venues:
• The 10-month resident course at the Army Command and General Staff College, or an equivalent course conducted by a U.S. sister service or foreign army, or an ILE interagency fellowship.
• A 14-week resident course conducted at one of four satellite campuses — Fort Belvoir, Va., Fort Lee, Va., Fort Gordon, Ga., or Redstone Arsenal, Ala.
• A distributed learning course tailored to the needs of an officer.
For example, Army Competitive Category officers in year groups 1994 to 2003 who do not have credit for Military Education Level IV (the crediting code for ILE) by Oct. 1, 2013, will complete ILE by distributed learning.
The Army estimates that 4,600 officers are in this backlog population, most of them members of year groups 2001 to 2003, according to Col. Joseph Gill, chief of the officer division in the directorate of military personnel management, Office of the G-1.
Officers in year groups 2001 to 2003 will not be eligible for selection to the 10-month resident course by the October promotion board, Gill said. However, they are eligible to be slated, as part of the existing ILE assignment process, for one of the two Command and General Staff College courses that convene in 2013.
In the interim, Human Resources Command will screen the records of officers in the 1994-2003 cohorts to determine if they can be awarded constructive credit for the ILE Advanced Operations Course based on their assignment history.
Officers awarded constructive credit must complete the common core phase of ILE via distributed learning to be MEL IV certified.
The ILE changes apply only to Army Competitive Category officers of the active component.
Reserve officers and members of the special branches are eligible for ILE, but selections will be made by boards and will be highly competitive, as they are today.
"Right now, we have what is supposed to be universal ILE, but one of our concerns is that it really is not universal," Perkins said.
"We have some 500 lieutenant colonels (and promotable majors) who are not MEL IV-qualified, and that is one of the reasons why the chief of staff and secretary of the Army have gone to this system of optimizing ILE," he said.
Perkins said in conversations with senior leaders, it was emphasized that all Army Competitive Category officers will attend ILE at one of the three venues.
Officials emphasize that officers still must make the cut for promotion to O-4 to qualify for ILE attendance.
‘Not a discriminator'
"It's a two-step process that requires promotion selection and then ILE selection," Gill said.
Senior leaders also emphasized that the type of ILE course an officer attends will not be a discriminator for promotion to lieutenant colonel or selection for battalion command.
"ILE will not be the discriminator," Perkins said. "We want the discriminator to be performance."
Gill said that when officers complete ILE, their Officer Record Brief will be annotated to indicate they have earned MEL IV credit.
"The Officer Record Brief, which is included in an officer's board file, will indicate the officer is an ILE graduate, but it will not indicate which venue the officer attended," Gill said.
While ILE is considered by many an unwritten requirement for promotion to lieutenant colonel in the active component, Gill said that is not the case.
The fiscal 2012 Army Competitive Category lieutenant colonel board selected 1,346 majors for promotion, and more than 100 of those officers had not been credited with completing ILE.
The concept of universal ILE dates to the Officer Personnel Management System revisions of the late 1990s.
Prior to that, resident staff college selection had been by a board process that was more competitive than selection for promotion to lieutenant colonel and that created two categories of officers — the "haves," who earned MEL IV credit through resident school attendance, and the "have-nots," who had to earn MEL IV credit via the nonresident course and who were not on the fast track for promotion, command and other desirable assignments.
Perkins said the plan to optimize ILE gives the Army an opportunity to have a more standardized mix of branch and functional area officers attending the 10-month Command and General Staff College course.
That has been difficult to do in recent years because of the heavy demand for basic-branch officers in Afghanistan and Iraq.
When the Army adopted the concept of universal ILE, the intent was that most basic-branch officers would attend the 10-month course, while functional area officers would go to the 14-week courses offered at satellite campuses.
In conversations with senior leaders, Command and Staff College officials determined they should attempt to create a classic staff group of officers for ILE seminars at Fort Leavenworth.
"You have got to have the right interaction between students, and you do that by having the right mix of branch and functional area officers in the classes," Perkins said.
"We want to have logistics officers, operational planners, public affairs officers, chaplains, lawyers and doctors, not only for their own education, but for the infantry, armor and field artillery guys who will be exposed to the capabilities of officers outside their branch," he said. "We are working very hard to avoid having homogeneous groups — we want one of every flavor at each of the venues."
Year group 2004 captains who are selected for promotion to major by the October board and who are members of the following functional areas will be eligible to compete for attendance at the 10-month Leavenworth course:
• FA 30, Information Operations.
• FA 46, Public Affairs.
• FA 49, Operations Research and Systems Analysis.
• FA 51, Research, Development and Acquisition.
• FA 57, Simulations Operations.
• FA 59, Strategist.
The Command and General Staff College conducts two 10-month courses annually, one in January and one in August.
"This allows the college to deliver trained majors to the force twice a year, rather than once a year as in the past," Perkins said.
Captains selected for promotion and the 10-month resident course by the October board will attend school in 2014, with most being assigned to the course that begins in August.