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Most Officers Get Top Choice in New Assignment Process

Maj. Gen. J.P. McGee, the Director of the Army Talent Management Task Force, speaks to junior officers.
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U.S. Army
Wednesday, January 29, 2020

More than half of the officers who participated in the first assignment cycle modeled after a commercial-style marketplace were matched with their top choice, a promising outcome in the Army’s efforts to overhaul the way it manages soldiers’ careers.

The assignment cycle took place through a program called the Army Talent Alignment Process (ATAP), a decentralized market-style hiring system designed to align officers with unit commanders seeking to fill staff positions.

Figures reported by the Army show that participation in the new assignment process was up significantly from the 60% participation rate of the last cycle. According to the Army, 95% of the more than 14,000 eligible active-duty officers listed their preferences for positions that start this summer and 98% of units listed their staff officer preferences.

“This increased two-way participation resulted in more than 55% of officers receiving their first-choice assignment and more than 80% of the officers receiving an assignment from their top 10% of preferenced jobs,” Maj. Gen. Joe Calloway, commander of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, said in an Army news release.

About 67% of officers and 66% of units also received one of their top three choices, according to the release, which said the next cycle starts in April for moves that will occur next winter.

The effort is part of Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville’s emphasis on putting people first. “If we know where they want to go and what they want to do, we believe we can get the right person in the right job at the right time, and we will have a better Army that is more committed,” McConville said.

“When our people are treated this way,” he added, “we know they perform better, stay longer, and they will make our Army stronger.”

With ATAP, officers build professional resumes in which they can highlight skills, knowledge, behaviors and preferences above and beyond their officer evaluation reports. By the same token, units can search for and focus on the officers they think are most suited for the positions they’re offering.

ATAP is part of the Army’s move away from a decades-old assignment process that was ill-equipped to uncover officers’ hidden talents. The early success of ATAP notwithstanding, some slated assignments could be impacted and create unforecasted manning shortages in units, the release said.

“We acknowledge that emerging requirements and structural changes could change some officer and unit matches in order to meet Army requirements,” Calloway said. “However, U.S. Army Human Resources Command will continually seek to meet these requirements while honoring officer and unit preferences/readiness to the maximum extent possible.”