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Major select rates returning to normal

Selection opportunity for most of the basic-branch captains who competed for promotion to major markedly improved this year, according to statistics generated by the Army Competitive Category O-4 board that met in March and April.

Some 1,730 Operations, Operations Support and Force Sustainment captains were recommended for  promotion, and will pin-on to major in fiscal 2016.

The primary zone of consideration included Regular Army captains with dates of rank of Jan. 30, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2010.

PZ select rates were 70.4 percent for Operations officers, 69 percent for Operations Support and 69.7 percent for Force Sustainment, for an average of nearly 70 percent, well above the 2014 average of 65 percent.

The above-zone category for previously considered officers generated an unusually high select rate of 20 percent among officers who were facing possible involuntary separation or early retirement.

Last year the average select rate for passed-over officers was 5.4 percent, but the pickup rate for junior officers in the below-zone category accounted for nearly 10 percent of the board's total selections.

This year BZ officers accounted for fewer than 3 percent of the total selections, which in turn generated additional selection slots for PZ and AZ officers.

The below-zone selection window encompassed captains with dates of rank of Feb. 1, 2010 through March 8, 2011.

The Army, Defense Department and Congress track the ebb and flow of military promotions using procedures stipulated in the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act, a law governing commissioned officer accession, promotion and retention policies in the all the services.

During normal times, when the Army is not building up or drawing down, it will strive for selection opportunities of 50 percent for colonel, 70 percent for lieutenant colonel, 80 percent for major and 90 percent for captain.

A review of historical data indicates selection opportunity for the Army Competitive Category ballooned during the decade-long force buildup that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001.

Selection opportunity before the wars in Southwest Asia averaged about 80 percent for captains moving up to major.

DOPMA selection opportunity is calculated by dividing the number of primary-zone candidates by the total number of primary-zone, above-zone and below-zone officers selected by a board.

During the past five years, the DOPMA rate for major has dropped from the annual average of 108 percent for 2001-2011, to 99 percent in 2012, to 94 percent in 2013, to 70 percent in 2014 and back up to nearly 80 percent for this year's board.

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