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Board: Most Reserve MSgt. files not ready

Feb. 6, 2013 - 08:31AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 6, 2013 - 08:31AM  |  
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Only about one-third of the Army Reserve soldiers considered for promotion by the annual Active Guard and Reserve master sergeant board certified the contents of their board file before the panel convened in October.

Members of the board commented on noncommissioned officers' records, citing several ways NCOs fail to meet the Army's standards, including indications of sexual misconduct and other "indiscretions."

The AGR master sergeant board is one of the toughest promotion reviews in the Army, with only about 1 percent of eligible personnel making the cut for advancement.

The fiscal 2013 board, in session Oct. 15-30, evaluated 3,120 sergeants first class for promotion but selected only 36, for a select rate of 1.15 percent.

The selection board also considered soldiers in certain overstrength specialties for involuntary separation or early retirement under the Qualitative Service Program.

QSP selections and selection statistics are not released by the Army.

Active Guard and Reserve (Army Reserve) promotion select rates are much tighter than the Regular Army as promotions are strictly related to current and projected vacancies in an enlisted force structure that is heavily populated with senior NCOs, and that has narrow promotion gates.

Given the competitiveness of the process, selection board members noted in their after-action report that only 34.7 percent of the NCOs in the zone of consideration reviewed and certified the contents of their board file as recommended by the Army.

"It is clear that leaders across the Army are not conducting thorough checks to verify that their soldiers' files are properly updated before the board convenes," the panelists reported.

The seven board members also reported that 14.4 percent of the promotion candidates did not have an official photo in their file, and that "a vast majority" of the photos reviewed had "obvious errors in rank and awards."

"Additionally, many photos were unflattering (such as soldiers sweating profusely) and should have been retaken," according to the report submitted to Office of the G-1, and signed by board president Brig. Gen. Janice M. Haigler.

(Page 2 of 2)

Haigler, an Army Reserve officer, is deputy commander of the 311th Signal command, Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

The board members also reported that physical training test failures, and failures to comply with body-fat standards, were "a significant discriminator in our selection of future leaders."

The panelists said NCOs must be made to understand that they must lead by example and maintain appropriate physical fitness and body-fat standards.

Soldiers who exceeded course standards when attending school were viewed favorably by the board.

"Routinely, leaders believe that attending school is ‘down time,' and do not approach courses aggressively," the board reported. "Those rare leaders who [exceeded] course standards were recognized throughout the board process."

Board member comments also reflected the Army's ongoing crackdown on soldiers who fail to measure up to Army standards for behavior and performance as follows:

Previous clear indications of sexual misconduct and toxic leadership were viewed unfavorably by the board.

Leaders across the Army must understand that sexual misconduct and maltreatment of soldiers are contrary to Army values "and should not be tolerated."

A surprising number of files contained recent memos of reprimand or NCO evaluation reports indicating that soldiers had been arrested for driving while intoxicated or under the influence.

"Due to the seniority of the board, we could not overlook those indiscretions when considering advancing leaders to the rank of master sergeant or first sergeant," the members reported.

Not all misconduct and poor evaluations were discriminators for the master sergeant board, especially if such problems occurred early in a soldier's career.

"Leaders should understand that a singular act of misconduct or a poor evaluation report may not necessarily end their career," they said. "Board members distinguished how a leader has performed in total and evaluated potential by viewing the entire file, contributions to the Army and the soldier's potential for [service in] leadership positions of increased responsibility."

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