The Army’s officer personnel system has been outdated for years, in fact it was devised, even in its present form, to support an industrial age military; where generalists and not specialists were needed. Under the Defense Officers Personnel Management Act (DOPMA) passed in the 1980s some reforms were instituted, such as eliminating the Reserve and Regular Officer promotions boards, and defining Time in Grade requirements. DOPMA is also outdated.
Over at the Federal News Service they are taking a two part look at the Army and its promotion system. Within the services the Army’s officer promotion boards are generally considered to be the most anal service about their officers following the prescribed road map for promotion.
Out of necessity it has to assign junior officers to Training and Doctrine Command positions, where often times the officer cannot transition to a MTO&E tactical unit and get their platoon leader time. Even for officers who do well, who receive top blocks on their report cards, they will find themselves blackballed by their branch and placed in the shit bird pile because they did not have MTO&E platoon time or their Command was a Training command and not a real MTO&E Command.
For an officer to go to ROTC or even West Point today to teach is the kiss of death. You will suddenly find yourself blackballed by the professional personnel managers at HRC or even worse having your promotion board decide your career is outside the parameters of those sitting on the board. End result you will find yourself a non-select.
Then there are the officers who stub their toe (not talking about a relief for cause) as a Second Lieutenant, who bounce back do well in subsequent assignments only to find themselves being bounced from the Army.
Lastly there is the curse of the Top Block. A friend who as a Battalion Commander received 4 report cards. On his first it was Center of Mass as his Brigade Commander had no room for another Top Block, his next three were Top Blocks, two of which were in Iraq. Guess what he was a first time non-select for Colonel (he made it the second time around) and has never attended the war college.
The Department of Defense could benefit from a new Personnel Management Act. One that reflected the realities of the 21st Century and not the mid-20th Century post World War II Industrial mind set. The military and the Army manage talent more like they did in Mad Men than Silicon Valley manages and nurtures talent.