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Army updates rules for 'flagging' soldiers

At a time of drawdown and competitive retention screenings for officers and NCOs, it is no time to get "flagged" for running afoul of service standards for behavior, physical fitness or job competency.

The regulation governing the suspension of favorable personnel actions, or "flags," has been updated so that it lays out in explicit detail the circumstances that can hurt a soldier's standing with the Army.

The new edition of AR 600-8-2 was published May 11, and will take effect June 11 for soldiers who have been flagged for any number of adverse actions.

It replaces the October 2012 edition of the regulation. It applies to Regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers.

Included among the many circumstances that can trigger a flag are:

• Military legal proceedings.

• An official reprimand, censure or admonishment.

• Absence without leave, or AWOL.

• Security issues, to include the revocation or denial of a security clearance.

• Involuntary separation or discharge procedures under the Qualitative Management Program and other ouster program managed from Army headquarters.

• The denial of an automatic time-in-service promotion to private enlisted two, private first class, specialist, first lieutenant or chief warrant officer two.

• The failure of Army health services soldiers to maintain appropriate professional licenses and certifications.

• Failure to comply with physical fitness or weight control standards.

While the revised regulation consolidates and clarifies interim changes made to the document in recent years, it also defines the requirement to initiate a flag when an investigation is opened on a soldier in a criminal proceeding, or by a commander that could result in a disciplinary action or loss in rank, pay or privileges.

The new regulation removes the requirement to initiate a flag solely for the opening of a financial liability investigation related to property loss.

It also addresses flagging actions that are triggered by "referred officer reports" and "relief for cause NCO reports" under the new Officer and NCO Evaluation Reporting Systems.

The updated regulation requires that flags be initiated within three working days after a soldier's status changes from favorable to unfavorable.

Active flags will then be reviewed and validated at least monthly by a soldier's unit commander, and by the battalion-level commander when the flag has been in place for more than six months.

Flags will be removed within three working days after a soldier's status changes from unfavorable to favorable.

Favorable personnel actions that typically are prohibited because of a flag include;

• Appointments, re-appointments, re-enlistments and service extensions.

• Reassignments, unless specifically authorized by the Human Resources Command, and when appropriate, senior field commanders and state adjutants general.

• Appearance before a semi-centralized promotion board.

• Promotion, lateral appointment and frocking.

• Recommendations for, and receipt of, military awards and decorations.

• Attendance at military schools, to include NCO and Officer Education System courses. The prohibition does not include initial entry training.

• Army-funded undergraduate and graduate civilian school attendance, to include courses being taken through the Tuition Assistance program.

• Government-funded travel and command sponsorship for the family members of soldiers making a permanent change of station move to an overseas location.

• Payment of enlistment and retention bonuses.

Commissioned and warrant officers who have been flagged generally are authorized to submit a request for an unqualified resignation, discharge or retirement.

Enlisted soldiers, if eligible, may submit a retirement application, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the appropriate retirement approval authority.

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