The Army has long screened recruiters and drill sergeants for past conduct that might make them a threat to young soldiers, but a new policy brings together screening criteria for a wider range of soldiers who would work directly with some of the Army’s most vulnerable populations.

Going forward, basic training cadre, recruiters and cadre with Officer Candidate School, West Point and ROTC ― along with Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program managers, victim advocates and response coordinators ― will be subject to thorough background screenings and a re-screening every three years, according to a directive signed Nov. 8 by Army Secretary Mark Esper.

The directive gathers pieces from dozens of Defense Department instructions, Army regulations, execution orders and other documents, laying them out in one guide to maintaining the integrity of leaders who work with young soldiers and sexual assault survivors.

The Army is looking for maturity, sound judgment and a commitment to the particular group of soldiers they’d be serving, of course, but will also weed out candidates from a long list of potential disqualifiers through both local and centralized screenings.

A local screening at the brigade level will search through records for substance abuse treatment, installation security and emergency services reports, as well as Defense Information System files. Next, commanders will check credit reports and national sex offender records.

Then HRC will review restricted records, inspector general reports, Criminal Investigation Command records and Defense Department adjudication records.

There are three levels of offenses that could potentially disqualify a soldier from holding these jobs. For example:

  • Type I includes offenses like child pornography offenses, sexual assaults, stalking, domestic or child abuse and any conviction that would require someone to register as a sex offender.
  • Type II includes offenses like sexual harassment, prostitution, affiliation with extremist groups or gangs, court-martial or civilian felony conviction, adultery, illegal drug possession, alcohol abuse or any criminal offense involving a child.
  • Type III includes offenses like relief for cause (in the current grade or in the past five years, whichever period is longer), enlistment waivers for misconduct, assault and theft.

Anything in the Type I category is an automatic disqualifier, while Type IIs are disqualifiers if they happened while a soldier was serving. Type III offenses are not disqualifying unless they happened in the last five years.

Administrative actions can also disqualify a candidate. Soldiers who have been flagged, barred from re-enlistment or are under legal investigation cannot do one of these jobs until the exception is removed.

Soldiers who are in the middle of a medical board, physical evaluation board or MOS retention board are also not able to work in these fields. Neither can anyone whose security clearance isn’t squared away.

And in case any of these adverse actions or information should pop up while a soldier is serving in one of these positions, they’ll be re-screened every three years while on the job. Soldiers who fail a re-screening will be notified and allowed to appeal removal decisions.

Read the full directive here.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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