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Captains, majors face chopping block

Nov. 9, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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The pin-on forecast for officer promotions for the coming year:

Lt. col.16.616.6
*Gradual move to a pin-on point of 11 years over the next four years. Source: Office of the Army G-1


Selected groups of basic-branch captains and majors would be screened for retention on active duty by separation boards that begin meeting in spring 2014, under an Army request being staffed at the Pentagon, according to Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.

Populations subject to the Officer Separation Board and Enhanced Selective Early Retirement Board reviews will include Army Competitive Category captains in year groups 2006 to 2008 and majors in year groups 1999 to 2003.

The target populations for involuntary release by boards that meet in March would include no more than 10 percent of the considered captains in year group 2008, and less than 20 percent of the considered captains in year groups 2006 and 2007, Odierno said in an Oct. 18 alert message to senior leaders.

Most of the captains and majors subject to screening by the upcoming officer separation boards will not be eligible for Temporary Early Retirement Authority because most of the officers have fewer than 15 years of qualifying service.

However, these officers would be eligible for involuntary separation pay, provided they have at least six years of active federal service. Payments are calculated by multiplying 10 percent of an officer’s basic pay by the officer’s years and fraction of a year of active service.

Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, Army personnel chief, said the zones of consideration and other details regarding these boards will be announced in a few weeks, provided the Defense Department approves the request.

The reduction in force is part of a plan to cut 41,600 soldiers than are on active duty rolls today.

“As we look at the 490,000 end strength, and our skill sets and requirements for that force, we clearly have to reduce the officer content of the Army in multiple year groups,” Bromberg said.

“We have briefed our plan to the Army leadership, and they have concurred, and we have gone to the Office of the Secretary of Defense ... to get OSD concurrence before we can announce details of the officer separation boards,” said Bromberg.

In his message to general officers, Odierno said all captains and majors considered by the upcoming boards will personally be notified and counseled by the first lieutenant colonel or colonel in their chain of command, to ensure:

■They are in the considered population for involuntary separation or early retirement, and

■They receive an assessment of their potential for future service, potential risk for separation, and help the officer prepare his or her personnel file for the board.

“For those qualified officers desiring continued service, we ask that you actively encourage service in the reserve component. Employing their skills and experience in the National Guard or Army Reserve is beneficial not only to the Army but to the officers and their families,” Odierno told the senior leaders.

The force reduction strategy also includes a plan to continue the SERB reviews that began in August, and were targeted at retirement-eligible colonels and lieutenant colonels of the Army Competitive Category. Sources said many officers in the zone of eligibility submitted voluntary retirement papers before the board met in late summer, rather than chance a SERB selection and involuntary retirement.

The results of that board will be available in early 2014, Bromberg said.

By law, officers who are selected for involuntary early retirement must leave the Army no later than the first day of the seventh month after the SERB recommendations are approved by the secretary of the Army.

As with the captain and major population, SERBs for certain retirement-eligible commissioned officers, and possibly warrant officers, are expected to continue during the drawdown, according to G-1 officials.

As part of the culling process, the Army will introduce Enhanced Selective Early Retirement Boards, or eSERBs, Bromberg said. “The eSERBs give us a different capability, so that we can look at any [retirement-eligible] officer, not just officers in specific year groups or time-in-grade [categories],” Bromberg said.

Early this year, Army Secretary John McHugh authorized a special early retirement option for soldiers who have at least 15 years, but fewer than 20 years, of active service and who are selected for involuntary separation because of promotion passovers or drawdown-related management programs.■

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