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Army Seeks Civilian-Style Soldier Management

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U.S. Army
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Army is moving toward a civilian-style, market-based talent management system of assignments where job seekers and commanders can find the right fit, Army Secretary Mark T. Esper says.

Unlike the current personnel system where soldiers are given their next assignment with little or no say, the personnel system that is evolving “would be a market-based personnel system” in which soldiers would be able to scour an online Army site for their next position, Esper said in an April 24 interview in his Pentagon office.

Likewise, a commander who is looking to fill a staff position will have a broader number of people to choose from based on soldier profiles that will help determine suitability for an assignment with more granularity. 

“Right now, you have two factors, right? If you’re going to be a battalion [operations officer] in an infantry battalion, the two factors are: you have to be a major and you have to be infantry,” Esper used as an example. Instead of just two factors, the future system would have 20 or more factors listed for each soldier that include other talents and skills, such as language, that are not typically listed. “This gets to the talent piece of this, it’s understanding the person's knowledge, skills, behaviors and preferences,” he said.

The marketplace aspect of talent management would also help with soldiers who want to take a break for school or to start a family, Esper said. Changes are already underway for officers, will soon be available for enlisted soldiers and will eventually also be applied to the civilian workforce.

“The officer piece is much, much further along. By the end of this year, I think we'll have everybody on the system,” he said. He has confidence in the outcome, he said, because of the help of Gen. James C. McConville, the current Army vice chief and nominee to be the next chief of staff, who was deputy chief of staff for personnel.

“At the end of the day for an all-volunteer force in this day and age, it's the right way to go and we need to go there,” Esper said.