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Web-based tracker may speed Reserve promotions

Feb. 13, 2013 - 07:24AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 13, 2013 - 07:24AM  |  
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Soldiers must meet these time-in-grade and time-in-service minimums to be eligible for promotion. The Reserve looks at these and other factors in its new computer system to compile lists of promotion-eligible soldiers in an effort to promote them in a more timely way and help fill undermanned midgrade noncommissioned officer ranks.
Fast-tracking soldiers can get waivers, with different minimums for TIG and TIS, as shown:

Grade: E-2
Minimum TIS: 6 months
Minimum TIG: None
Waived minimum TIS: 4 months
Waived minimum TIG: None

Grade: E-3
Minimum TIS: 12 months
Minimum TIG: 4 months
Waived minimum TIS: 6 months
Waived minimum TIG: 2 months

Grade: E-4:
Minimum TIS: 24 months
Minimum TIG: 6 months
Waived minimum TIS: 18 months
Waived minimum TIG: 3 months

Grade: E-5
Minimum TIS: 34 months
Minimum TIG: 6 months
Waived minimum TIS: 16 months
Waived minimum TIG: 4 months

Grade: E-6
Minimum TIS: 70 months
Minimum TIG: 8 months
Waived minimum TIS: 46 months
Waived minimum TIG: 5 months

Qualified Army Reserve soldiers could be promoted more quickly because of a new Web-based promotion tracking system being fielded across the force.

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Qualified Army Reserve soldiers could be promoted more quickly because of a new Web-based promotion tracking system being fielded across the force.

The tracking system closely mirrors a program used in the active Army, and the goal is to more efficiently and quickly identify soldiers eligible for promotion, said Sgt. Maj. Gary Martz, the senior enlisted soldier for the Reserve's Human Capital Core Enterprise, which oversees all human resources issues within the component.

The goal is to promote deserving soldiers while whittling down the Reserve's overstrength in junior soldiers and filling shortages in the noncommissioned officer ranks, Martz said.

The Reserve has about 130 percent of its authorized E-1 through E-4 soldiers, Martz said.

But the component has only 65 percent of its authorized E-7s, 81 percent of its staff sergeants and 89 percent of its sergeants.

"We have a critical shortage at our midgrade NCO levels, while we're experiencing an overstrength in our Skill Level 1 [soldiers], which is E-1 through E-4," Martz said. "This has been a historical trend, but what we're trying to do is seek initiatives that will help us better balance the force and grow our end strength to 205,000."

The Reserve's end strength now is about 200,000.

The promotion system is governed by Army Regulation 600-8-19, which outlines how much time in grade and time in service a soldier must have before being eligible for promotion, Martz said.

"We're finding there are soldiers in the grades of E-1 to E-4 who've met time in grade and time in service, but we have no evidence that they're being put up for promotion," he said.

The automated promotion tracking system provides commanders with a by-name list of E-1 through E-6 soldiers in their unit who have met their time-in-grade and time-in-service requirements and are eligible for promotion, Martz said.

Also included are soldiers who have met the accelerated time-in-grade and time-in-service requirements. These are shorter requirements, provided by a waiver from the Reserve, for exceptional performers, he said.

"Commanders at the unit level are always challenged by the limited amount of time they have during battle assemblies," Martz said. "This gives them a snapshot at their fingertips."

Using this list, commanders then recommend qualified soldiers for promotion while delaying promotion for those they deem aren't ready or are not meeting standards.

"We're not directing commanders to promote all of the soldiers in their formation," Martz said. "That would be the last thing we want to do. We want to give them the tools to identify the right soldiers eligible for promotion."

Having this list also creates opportunities for commanders and senior NCOs to counsel and engage with their soldiers, Martz said.

"Through counseling, leaders can work with soldiers on opportunities, schools and how to prepare for promotion," he said.

Quarterly reports

The automated tracking system was created in late November, and on Feb. 1, commanders had to submit the first of what will be quarterly reports. These reports help leaders up the chain of command see how their units are performing, Martz said.

Before the tracking system, the Reserve found that only 3 to 4 percent of eligible soldiers were being put up for promotion, Martz said. The goal is for 33 percent of all eligible soldiers to be promoted or recommended for promotion, he said.

For example, about 52,000 soldiers are eligible for promotion to E-5, Martz said. However, only about 2,500 soldiers, or less than 5 percent, are on a list for promotion.

By making sure qualified soldiers are promoted in a timely manner, leaders can reduce frustration within the ranks and improve retention, Martz said.

"Unfortunately, a lot of soldiers were meeting all of the minimum requirements, but their promotion status was not being addressed," he said. "Soldiers perhaps may leave the Army Reserve as a whole based on a lack of opportunity and promotion growth."

However, he cautioned that this tracking system is not a mandate for commanders to promote just anybody.

"We're saying engage your soldiers and only promote those who are demonstrating potential for upward movement," Martz said. "What we're looking for is their potential to lead, and [military occupational specialty] knowledge."

One of the biggest challenges the Reserve faces in achieving the right balance of junior, midgrade and senior soldiers is "you can't grow a senior NCO overnight," Martz said.

"You can make one happen on paper, but it's not going to be the result you would desire," he said. "It takes responsibility and patience in our growth and nurturing of our soldiers."

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