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New Battalion Commander Assessment Underway

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U.S. Army
Friday, January 24, 2020

The first iteration of a new program that fundamentally changes the way battalion commanders are selected is underway at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and it promises to be “transformational,” the Army’s top general said. 

The Battalion Commander Assessment Program (BCAP) is part of the Army’s ambitious plan to use a talent management approach to shake up decades-old promotion and command practices.

“This is transformational,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said during a video teleconference media roundtable from Fort Knox, where he was on hand to observe some of the activities of the five-day assessment.

Of the 1,800 lieutenant colonels and promotable majors in the Army who were eligible for command, 1,100 expressed an interest in commanding and went through a routine command screening board process. Of those, 816 were invited to participate in the BCAP at Fort Knox and 769 ended up participating, McConville said.

The assessment began Jan. 15 and is slated to conclude Feb. 9, with a new group of officers reporting every day to begin the five-day assessment.

Officers going through the assessment are evaluated for height and weight standards, physical fitness and past performance, plus they are questioned by a panel in a blind interview and subjected to a psychological evaluation, an assessment borrowed from the special operations community.

Participants are also grouped into teams for a leader reaction course and observed for their leadership and critical thinking abilities as they work their way through a series of tasks.

At the end of the BCAP process, there will be primary and alternate command lists for those deemed “ready,” said Maj. Gen. J.P. McGee, director of the Army Talent Management Task Force. Those who don’t make the cut will have two more opportunities to go through the assessment program at Fort Knox after they are provided with an opportunity to work on the attributes identified for improvement, he said.

“I am excited about what they’re doing. This is really some incredible work going on down here,” McConville said, adding that battalion commanders are “the most consequential leaders in the Army” as they will become the service’s future strategic leaders. 

“We want to make sure we have the right people in these positions,” he said.