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HRC working to inform troops as drawdown begins

Oct. 23, 2012 - 07:33AM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 23, 2012 - 07:33AM  |  
Maj. Gen. Richard Mustion is commander of Army Human Resources Command.
Maj. Gen. Richard Mustion is commander of Army Human Resources Command. (Army)
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HRC has a diverse mission agenda that includes the day-to-day career management of Regular Army and Active Guard and Reserve (Army Reserve).
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Location: Fort Knox, Ky.
Commander: Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mustion
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FORT KNOX, Ky. Human Resources Command will make an aggressive effort in the coming year to keep soldiers informed about the myriad career management and personnel services that will be of high interest as the Army heads toward a major drawdown and restructuring of forces.

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FORT KNOX, Ky. Human Resources Command will make an aggressive effort in the coming year to keep soldiers informed about the myriad career management and personnel services that will be of high interest as the Army heads toward a major drawdown and restructuring of forces.

"We want to make sure that the soldiers we are serving have an understanding of what we're doing, and that we have a synchronized engagement strategy," said Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mustion, who took over command of HRC in August.

Mustion, an Adjutant General Corps officer, previously served at the Pentagon as the Army's director of military personnel management. He spoke with Army Times in a Sept. 20 interview.

"Back more than 10 years ago, we used to send teams out to installations (for briefings on personnel issues), but because of the wars we stopped that. But we are starting to do that again," he said. "We're going out with teams and engaging the Army, not just with the leaders at installations but with soldiers, to tell them what we're doing to improve dwell time, the Married Army Couples Program, and all the other programs that affect soldiers and their families."

HRC will use such visits and personal engagements to get a better understanding of soldiers' concerns, Mustion said.

"I think that before we put a noncommissioned officer on assignment instructions, there should be a phone call so that we will understand the impact the move will have on the soldier and his family," he said. "There may be things in this regard that are not visible in the soldier's personnel file. This represents a cultural change for HRC, and it's going to take us a while to get there."

Having the right soldiers

Mustion said HRC will focus on other efforts during the coming year.

"Our primary mission is manning the Army … but that involves more than just numbers and making sure we have the right aggregate number of soldiers in units," he said. "It's making sure that we have the right soldier, with the right skills set and preparations in our formations.

"My sense is that, over the past 11 years, we have been so focused on resourcing formations … and that we have gotten out of balance and need to be more precise in how we man our units," Mustion said.

Another effort for HRC will be to focus on better ways to manage personnel.

"We fundamentally have not changed the way we do business in the personnel community for as long as I have been in the Army," said Mustion, who has served since 1981. "We need to critically ask ourselves why we are doing something in a particular way."

As an example, Mustion noted there are numerous staff and soldier actions in the personnel arena that have to be routed up the chain of command to Army headquarters for approval.

"We have to ask ourselves if this is the right thing to do," he said. "We need to determine if we should better empower commanders at echelons below us to make those decisions."

Files, audits, OER and ILE

During the interview with Army Times, Mustion discussed several other issues involving career management and personnel programs. Here are edited responses to questions from Army Times:

Q. I understand that, during trips to the field, you and the HRC teams will address the importance of soldiers reviewing and updating their files at this time of increased competition for promotion and other selection board actions. Could you expand on this?

A. As we move to the future, one of the messages we will carry to the field is the critical importance to our officers and NCOs to pay attention to their record, and if appropriate, use the My Board File [application] when they will be considered by a board.

They should make sure their photos and record briefs are updated so boards will have an accurate view of the soldier being considered.

Q. Several years ago, the Army required soldiers to review their official file once a year. Is that requirement going to be revived?

A. We are working an action to re-implement the annual birth-month audit.

We need to reinstate the audit but to do it in such a way that will not be an administrative burden. Audits used to be supported by personnel service battalions, but those [organizations] have gone away. I believe we can take the My Board File [system] and make [annual birth-month audits] a routine process.

Q. Fielding the new Officer Evaluation Reporting system will require quite an education process to prepare the officers for Dec. 1, 2013, launch. How will HRC support the fielding of the new system?

A. Part of our engagement strategy is to inform the force within the next 90 days what is coming, and hopefully reduce the anxiety and uncertainty that may be out there.

My instruction from the chief of staff of the Army is to have our teams talk to every officer about the new OER.

This will be an aggressive information campaign about the key changes. Within the second quarter of fiscal 2013, we will launch an education campaign, with small teams visiting installations, schoolhouses and education venues throughout the Army to train officers at all echelons about the new OER and how it will be used.

Q. As part of the transition to the new Intermediate Level Education system, HRC will evaluate officers in year groups 1994-2003 who have not attended Intermediate Level Education for the possible award of constructive credit for the Advanced Operations Course phase of ILE based on their assignment history. Has that review started?

A. Yes it has, and so far, we have identified more than 800 officers who appear to qualify, based on their experience in key developmental positions. This information will then be provided to the Office of the Army G-3 (operations and training).

If an officer is approved for constructive credit, then all he or she will need for ILE credit is to complete Joint Professional Military Education 1 (the common core phase of ILE).

The review process will be continuous, and [our] Officer Personnel Management Directorate will conduct monthly reviews of this population of officers as it ages.

Q. The Army estimates that 4,600 officers are in the backlog population for ILE, most of them members of year groups 2001-2003. Will HRC slate some of these officers for the resident 10-month courses that will be conducted by the Command and General Staff College before attendance at courses in 2014, and later will be based on board selection?

A. We are focusing on officers in those groups who have not had a key developmental assignment [to qualify for Advanced Operations Course constructive credit] for possible slating to the Command and General Staff College courses that begin in February and July 2013.

Answers by RallyPoint

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