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  • Half of senior NCOs to face separation boards

    By Jim Tice - Staff writer
    Posted : Monday Mar 26, 2012 7:20:55 EDT

    Fifty percent of the Army’s senior noncommissioned officers will be considered for possible involuntary separation by boards that meet over the next several months.

    The retention screenings, to be held in conjunction with senior NCO promotion boards, will apply to staff sergeants, sergeants first class, master sergeants and sergeants major. The boards will look for NCOs who are serving in chronically overstrength specialties, or who are mired in military occupational specialties with little or no promotion opportunity.

    That means that within the Regular Army, 64,500 NCOs will be screened, starting with the sergeant major board that convenes June 4.

    The master sergeant board meets in October, and the sergeant first class board meets in February 2013.

    The sergeant major board will look at sergeants major and master sergeants for the Qualitative Service Program. The master sergeants board for sergeants first class and the sergeants first class board will look at staff sergeants.

    The Army secretary signed off on the QSP program as of mid-March, Army Times has learned.

    Pentagon officials estimate that about 4,000 NCOs, most of them retirement-eligible, will be selected for involuntary separation from active duty in fiscal 2013.

    Several thousand Army Reserve NCOs also will be screened by the Active Guard and Reserve (Army Reserve) boards that meet simultaneously with the Regular Army boards.

    The reviews will not involve National Guard soldiers or members of the non-AGR elements of the Army Reserve.

    Also, soldiers on the sergeant first class lists released in mid-March, and promotable soldiers on other senior NCO lists, will not be screened by the upcoming retention boards.

    Soldiers with six to 20 years of federal service may be eligible for full involuntary separation pay as stipulated in federal law (Title 10 USC 1174).

    Involuntary separation pay is calculated by starting with 12 times the monthly basic pay to which the soldier was entitled at the time of discharge, multiplying that by the soldier’s years of active service, then taking 10 percent of the result.

    Payouts for staff sergeants and senior NCOs range from $20,781 to $113,782, depending on grade and years of service.

    Soldiers who receive retention bonus payments will not be required to repay any unused portions of a bonus.

    Any unpaid installments will be paid in a lump sum to the soldiers at the time of separation.

    Departing soldiers will be eligible for services under the Army’s Transition Assistance Program, and will be issued military ID and privilege cards.

    Benefits will include two years of exchange and commissary privileges.

    Also, Tricare and medical treatment facility services will be available for 60 days for soldiers separating with less than six years of service, and 120 days for soldiers with six or more years of active duty.

    The Enlisted Qualitative Service Program is a new force alignment campaign that combines the existing Qualitative Management Program with two new boards:

    • The Overstrength Qualitative Service Program Board, a centralized selection process to consider staff sergeants and senior NCOs for involuntary separation when their primary MOS and rank exceed the Army’s 12-month operating strength goal for the MOS.

    • The Promotion Stagnation Qualitative Service Program Board, a review process for considering staff sergeants and above for involuntary separation when the promotion timing objective for an MOS exceeds promotion pin-on rates, measured in years of service.

    Staff sergeants who are selected for involuntary separation by either of these boards can request voluntary reclassification to a shortage MOS.

    However, such requests must be received within 30 days of the soldier’s separation notification.

    Soldiers who cannot be scheduled for reclassification training within six months of the notice will be involuntarily separated.

    Qualitative Management Program retention screenings remain an event-driven involuntary separation process for sergeants first class, master sergeants and sergeants major when derogatory information is placed in their official personnel file.

    Under a policy change that takes effect April 1, the time-in-service eligibility zone for the Qualitative Management Program will expand from a minimum of 20 years active federal service to a minimum of 19.

    As of mid-March, QSP screenings only have been scheduled through the master sergeant boards that convene Feb. 13, 2013.

    However, the program will be codified as policy in the appropriate regulations, and will be available in the future as a force management tool, according to Gerald Purcell, an enlisted policy integrator in the Office of the Army G-1 (human resources) at the Pentagon.

    Purcell said the QSP is not a pure drawdown tool but a program for aligning the MOS and rank mix of the Army to meet manning requirements of the future force.

    “We are planning for the drawdown, but a majority of [the reduction actions] will not begin until 2014,” Purcell said.

    “The application of the Qualitative Service Program now is directly linked to targeting grades and MOS that are overstrength, and to ensure that we create viable career paths for soldiers in all career fields.

    “These are not bad soldiers, or poor performers, but, based on a review of their records, they are soldiers with the least potential for future contributions,” Purcell said.

    Sgt. Maj. Stan Randolph, sergeant major for the directorate of military personnel management, said that as the Army prepares to realign for the future, “it’s important that we identify those soldiers who may not be of the highest quality, and who need to leave the force.”

    “The bottom line is that some of the soldiers identified by the QSP boards will be highly qualified, but due to [force] structure changes and other reasons, there just is no requirement for them to stay on active duty,” Purcell said.

    The first QSP boards will meet this spring in conjunction with the Active Guard and Reserve sergeant major board that convenes May 30, and the Regular Army sergeant major board that convenes June 4.

    Specific details, to include the MOS and rank cells to be targeted by the boards, are scheduled to be announced in late March.

    General policy guidance regarding the QSP was announced to commanders and other leaders by message and memos March 14.

    Retirement-eligible soldiers who are in a QSP zone of eligibility can request voluntary retirement in lieu of the retention review.

    Retirements must occur no later than 12 months after the date of the board announcement.

    The QSP process

    The mission of the QSP boards will be to select soldiers for involuntary separation, according to a policy directive issued by Brig. Gen. Richard P. Mustion, the Army’s director of military personnel management.

    Board members will be instructed to make decisions based on their assessment of a soldier’s potential for future contributions to the Army.

    “When command sergeants major and sergeants major are considered, the board will limit consideration to the soldier’s performance since his or her last promotion, and potential for future contributions,” Mustion said.

    Documents to be included in the QSP board files will include:

    • Performance, education, training and commendatory records in the official personnel file.

    • Enlisted Record Brief.

    • Official photograph.

    • Any letters submitted to the board president by the soldier under review.

    Soldiers selected for involuntary separation will be notified by their chain of command, and will be discharged the first day of the seventh month after the board results are approved.

    Soldiers separated under QSP will receive honorable discharges, and can transition to the reserve components, depending on National Guard and Army Reserve manning requirements.

    The DD Form 214 separation document will be annotated with re-entry code “1,” which means separating soldiers will be eligible to return to active duty under conditions set by the Defense Department.

    NCOs who have, or will have, 18 years of active federal service on their projected release date will be allowed to stay on active duty until they qualify for retirement at 20 years of service.

    Soldiers retained under this provision of law (Title 10, USC 1176), which is called the retirement lock-in rule, are not eligible for promotion consideration.

    Other soldiers selected for involuntary separation have seven days from formal notification to appeal the finding based on material error, newly discovered evidence or subsequent removal of documents from the official file.

    These are the same appeal procedures used for the Qualitative Management Program over the past two years.

    Soldiers who are selected by a QSP board can request voluntary retirement in lieu of involuntary separation.

    Such retirements must occur no later than the first day of the seventh month following approval of the QSP list.

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