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Army must recruit and retain top talent essential for the Future Force

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Army and industry leaders addressed attracting top talent in the "Recruiting and Retaining our Future" panel discussion at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Winter Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Ala..

"There are two ways to look at sequestration," said panel member William Marriott, Army Materiel Command’s deputy chief of staff of personnel.

Adding, "It can be really terrible or an opportunity to look at our processes and procedures to build more agility into our programs."

Marriott joined five other panelists including the Department of the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-1, Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, who develops manpower plans for the total Army.

Both leaders touted a move toward "managing to budget" as a means to right-size the civilian force.

With more than 60,000 civilians, AMC employs 25 percent of all Department of the Army civilians. Marriot said the goal is to have the right workforce in the right place at the right time.

Toward that end, he said he would like to see the Army hire civilians like it recruits and retains soldiers.

Marriot suggested hiring civilians in temporary or term positions for as long as eight years.

"Soldiers come in and are allowed to re-enlist based on performance and needs of the Army," he said.

Bringing the concept to the civilian side would allow the Army to surge its workforce as needed.

He added, "We need to build in more flexibility for a more manageable and agile workforce."

Marriott also said he would like to see direct hiring authority for critical skills, more outreach, and enhanced incentive packages for voluntary early retirement.

"The $25 thousand we’re offering now doesn’t incentivize our most senior workforce," he said. "I propose doubling that."

From the military perspective, the U.S. Army Cadet Command deputy commanding general, Brig. Gen. Maria R. Gervais, said she is extremely proud of the officers produced through the ROTC program and that the program is meeting its objective of providing about 78 percent of the Army’s officer requirement.

Despite its success, Gervais noted the ROTC program had not changed much in 30 years, in spite of changes in the environment and anticipation of the future battlefield.

The command also acknowledged the need for a new approach to its cadet training program. "We were teaching them what to think, not how to think," Gervais said.

Recognizing that, she said the campus curriculum was completely overhauled.

Gervais said meeting diversity goals is another challenge.

She noted the command is committed to doing more in diversity of thought, ethnicity and academic disciplines.

For soldiers leaving the service, Bromberg explained a recent change that starts the transition process 12 months out. "We have a career-ready standard," Bromberg said.

With the goal of connecting soldiers with employers earlier, Bromberg said the Department of Labor and Veterans Affairs have a lot to offer for transitioning military, including one-on-one counseling.

"There is plenty of movement in taking care of [service members] as they transition. The dollars inside Veterans Affairs and Department of Labor are pretty impressive."

Maj. Gen. Galen Jackman, USA, Ret., provided an industry perspective as a Raytheon vice president.

Jackman said mentorship was an important tool and a skill that mid-level and intermediate-level leaders should possess.

"They should have that as a core competency," Jackman said. "It starts with that expectation."