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Army Seeks Flexibility to Manage Cyber Careers

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U.S. Army Reserve
Thursday, January 25, 2018

Unique career paths for people like cyber officers may require more flexibility in accession and promotion rules than for other Army officers, the Army’s personnel chief told a Senate committee.

Testifying about the almost 40-year-old Defense Officer Personnel Management Act that standardized rules for accession, promotion, retention and separation of career officers, Lt. Gen. Thomas C. Seamands, deputy chief of staff for personnel, said the law “has served the Army well” with a few adjustments over the years as the Army grew, shrank and is now growing again.

“We feel it is time to consider what changes are needed to more effectively recruit, access and retain the talented officers needed to sustain our ready force, and to better manage and employ individual talents and specialized emerging skills,” he said. “We are challenged to sustain our low density, highly technical specialties or specific skill populations within larger branches.”

Seamands said the Army may have a legislation proposal for Congress to consider as part of the fiscal 2019 defense budget that addresses the needs for special branches. The Army has available a direct commissioning option for cyber officers that was approved by Congress as a three-year test. They’d like to expand that option while having the flexibility to commission new officers at a grade greater than first lieutenant, the current limit, he said.

Another change being considered involves when officers selected for promotion are promoted. DOPMA requires promotions to be made based on seniority on the active-duty list but the Army might prefer to promote based on the order of merit established by selection boards, he said. Such as change might make it easier to manage progression of officers who have demonstrated potential for critical assignments, he said.