Army Talent Management – The Assured Functional Area Transfer
BY: Wendy Mabry
How does the Army move from an industrial-age officer personnel management system that distributes officers based on requirements to an information-age talent management system that matches officers based on talent management principles; knowledge, skills, behaviors, and preferences?
Talent Management Strategy is addressing the adverse trends that resulted in the Army missing its recruiting goal for the first time in 13 years, falling short by 6500 Soldiers. Leaders are receiving historically low ratings for their ability to develop others, and 50% of officers are leaving the service after only 7 years. Senior leaders are engaged in change, leveraging business principles in marketing, data analysis and a new and improved incentive process that will incorporate a holistic approach to talent management.
In January 2019, the Army Talent Management Task Force (TMTF) developed a future system focusing on a regulated marketplace, incentivizing non-standard career paths, leveraging technology, and using a talent and a competency-based personnel management system. The new system will develop a gap analysis that consists of 6 steps:
- Identify desired future performance outcomes
- Identify current performance outcomes
- Identify Gaps: Measure the difference between current and desired performance outcomes.
- Analyze Gaps: knowledge, motivation, or organizational barriers to desired performance outcomes.
- Develop and test solutions to close gaps.
- Evaluate results, analyze outcomes and repeat.
“Managing talent means identifying individual’s potential to contribute and then tailoring development and incentives accordingly. By this definition, individual skills and attributes are only considered talents if they positively contribute to the needs of the Army.” An officer who is commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) or the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point owes the Army four or five years before leaving the service. Every officer who leaves service after his/her initial obligation reduces the overall talent pool; the Army talent management system must anticipate that first retention decision.
The TMTF is using the FY19 NDAA as the authoritative document that allows the task force to use approved Officer Personnel Management authorities; the first major changes in 38 years to Officer Personnel Management. The guidance given to the field by the TMTF includes “not limiting ideas, aim high and see what is achievable to optimize talent management into the personnel management system; attract, develop, and retain the best.” The intent is to pilot everything and not rush implementation; test small, medium, and large.
Section 501: Repeal of the requirement for ability to complete 20 years of service by age 62 as qualification for original appointment as a regular commissioned officer.
Section 502: Enhancement of availability of constructive service credit for private sector training or experience upon original appointment as a commissioned officer.
Section 503: Standardized temporary promotion authority across the military departments for officers in certain grades with critical skills
Section 504: Authority for promotion boards to recommend officers of particular merit be placed higher on a promotion list.
Section 505: Authority for officers to opt out of promotion board consideration.
Section 506: Applicability to additional officer grades of authority for continuation on active duty of officers in certain military specialties and career tracks.
Section 507: Alternative promotion authority for officers in designated competitive categories of officers.
Section 513: Authority to designate certain reserve officers as not to be considered for selection for promotion.
Section 518: Authority to adjust effective date of promotion in the event of undue delay in extending Federal recognition of promotion.
The FA40 personnel development office, Army Space Personnel Development Office (ASPDO) located in Colorado Springs, started the first Assured Functional Area Transfer Program (AFAT) as a 4 year pilot program. The program is similar to branch detailing, but the officers are assured a transfer into the FA40 Space Operations community at the 3-4 year mark. Since basic branches have a greater number of Lieutenant requirements than Captain requirements, and FA40 requires Captains with operational experience, AFAT allows for the identification of cadets from ROTC and USMA who will gain operational experience and possess FA40 specific talents and education; specifically Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) degrees. The AFAT program optimizes the productivity of each Army professional by aligning their unique talents against organizational talent demands.
The pilot program targets the classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023.
The advantages of the AFAT Program are:
- No company command requirement.
- TS/SCI clearance started prior to or during attendance at the Captains Career Course (CCC).
- The transfer to FA40 is assured, so no VTIP board is required.
- There is no Additional Service Obligation (ADSO).
- If the officer is excelling in their basic branch and wishes to remain, ASPDO will release them back to their basic branch.
- Using talent based branching, the transfer will allow identification of cadets with FA40 specific knowledge gained through undergraduate education.
- Graduating cadets contract into FA40 and are immediately detailed to a basic branch to gain operational experience and knowledge before transitioning into the Army’s Space Operations community.
The United States Army is the largest user of Space-based capabilities in the Department of the Defense (DOD). Satellites enable the Army to maneuver, and attack with great precision using Global Positioning Systems (GPS), communicate across the globe, collect information with space-based Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and weather, and see the battlefield using Force Tracking and Command and Control. Due to the increasing demand for space capabilities and Space as an Operational Domain, the Space Operations community is growing and is expected to continue over the next 5 years. AFAT is another way to bring in well qualified officers into the FA40 community.