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New NCO rating system on target for a September launch

A new NCO Evaluation Report that is sharply different from enlisted rating systems of the past is on track to launch in September following a massive service-wide train up that will begin in April.

Barring any delays, the new NCOER will take effect Sept. 1 for sergeants and above in the Regular Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve.

That means NCO evaluations with "thru dates" of Aug. 31, 2015, and earlier, will be filed under the current system, which employs the DA Form 2166-8 report.

Evaluations with thru dates of Sept.1, and later, will be filed on rating and counseling forms for the new DA Form 2166-9 system.

The new forms will begin populating the official personnel files of soldiers during the first quarter of fiscal 2016, and will be seen by the senior NCO promotion selection boards that meet later in the fiscal year, beginning with the master sergeant board that is tentatively slated for the February/March time frame.

The revised NCO rating system mirrors several changes made to the Officer Evaluation Report in the spring of 2014, including the introduction of separate report forms for soldiers of different ranks, and new responsibilities for raters and senior raters.

The NCO reports also will employ the Evaluation Entry System, an online tool for processing and submitting evaluations to the Human Resources Command for placement in a soldier's official file. The EES was introduced with the officer system in April 2014.

Both the NCO and officer systems are aligned with Army leadership doctrine, as defined in Army Doctrine Publication 6-22.

They also support Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno's strategic priorities of cultivating adaptive leaders for a complex world. The new rating systems are designed to assist selection boards in identifying the most talented soldiers for promotion and key assignments.

As approved by senior leaders, the new NCOER will focus on three levels, or grade plates, of leadership, as follows:

Direct Level: a form for sergeants that focuses on job proficiency, and is developmental in nature. Sergeants will be evaluated as meeting or not meeting performance standards related to presence, intellect, leadership, development and achievement.

Organizational: a form to evaluate NCOs in the ranks of staff sergeant through master sergeant and first sergeant, with a focus on organizational processes and systems.

Evaluations for promotion potential will be enumerated, so that senior raters cannot give "most qualified" box checks to more than 49 percent of the NCOs they senior rate at a particular grade. Enumeration, along-time feature of officer reports, but a new requirement for NCOs, is designed to dampen inflation.

Strategic:a report form for sergeants major and command sergeants major that will focus on large organizations and strategic initiative.

The report is designed so that raters and senior raters will assess, in written comments, the leadership attributes and competencies of the rated NCO.Promotion potential will be handled the same way as for staff sergeants through first sergeants.

Among the major changes planned for the new system is a delineation of roles and responsibilities for rating officials.

Raters, normally a soldier's first-line supervisor, will focus on job performance, while senior raters, normally an official who rates the rater, will focus on potential for promotion and future service.

In another first for the new system, raters will evaluate subordinates at the organizational and strategic levels on a four-box scale of "far exceeded," "exceeded," "met" and "did not meet" the standard.

While ratings of "far exceeded" will not be constrained by the 49 percent limit imposed on senior raters, the Army will imprint a rater tendency label, similar to the senior rater profile, showing the rater's rating history for all evaluations at that grade.

Another change under the new system involves a retooled NCOER Support Form that will be used by rating officials to counsel subordinates during the rating period.

The regulation governing the new system, AR 623-3, will require senior raters to counsel at least twice during the rating period.

Officials expect that SR participation will not only complement the rater's input to counseling, but will let rated soldiers know where they stand in terms of being evaluated for promotion.

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