Centralized Selection List will include all sergeants major, command sergeants major

By DAVID RUDERMAN
U.S. Army Human Resources Command

In April, a single division began managing the careers of 5,000 sergeants major and command sergeants major across the Army. The new Sergeant Major Management Division’s latest milestone came with the publication of a Military Personnel Message outlining criteria and procedures for the Centralized Selection List board for key active component and Active Guard and Reserve brigade and battalion CSM and SGM billet positions.

The MILPER — available at the Human Resources Command website — indicates the board will convene Oct. 18 and the formal slate is planned to be released in April 2017. The fiscal year 2018 board will include all active-duty Soldiers in the E9 grade with 27 years or less of service.

Eligible NCOs will be authorized to update their My Board File information until Oct. 18, and all AMHRR/iPERMS update submissions must be received, error free, by Oct. 14. All criteria and procedures are detailed in the MILPER, division chief Sgt. Maj. Eric Thom said.

“All eligible NCOs will be looked at for battalion, brigade and key billets,” he said. “Everybody who falls within the eligibility criteria is going to be looked at. It’s not an opt-in board, it’s an all-in board.”

HRC Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Jefferson said, “It is critical that sergeants major across all components understand the importance of the CSL process, both to their own career development and to the Army at large.”

Thom made his first official visit as SMMD chief to the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, earlier this month.

“That’s because this is the largest concentration of our eligible population and these Soldiers will be very interested in what they can and cannot compete for,” he said. “It will be an opportunity to talk to them before the board window closes.”

Thom said selected NCOs will be slated for both command sergeants major positions and for key billets. They will be managed through SMMD’s Command Management Branch.

“If I could emphasize anything, I need people to understand that the key billets are on the same list,” he said.

Thom reiterated the importance of key billets to the Army and to sergeants major planning their career development. These staff positions are deemed so critical by their proponents that they must be filled at all times. That has created challenges and opportunities that are high on SMMD’s agenda.

Thom said that in addition to proponents defining their particular key billet assignments, sergeants major across the Army must come to terms with the fact that being selected for a key billet is as much a professional endorsement as being selected for a command sergeant major position.

“People compete because they want that next level CSM billet,” he said. “The key billets are SGM billets and, frankly, a good portion of the field simply don’t want to lose their wreath. Their mindset is: ‘I made CSM, so I have to stay CSM.’ The truth is, it is going to be very hard to do that. There will still be some, but they will be the minority. Most will have to move back and forth.”

Despite that misperception, selection for a key billet is both critical to the Army and a solid step forward in an NCO’s career progression, Jefferson said.

“Key billets, which are critical SGM positions on division and corps staffs, are also very important in the development of our most senior noncommissioned officers,” he said.

“I can tell you from personal experience, I’ve been able to go back and forth, and I’ve made it up to the three-star level,” Thom said. “So it can be done. The two points to keep in mind are: First, key billets will open additional opportunities that CSM billets alone will not, and second, all CSL billets trump non-CSL billets.”

Bar to Continued Service Program will soon affect all ranks, not just re-enlistments

By ROBERT TIMMONS
Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Public Affairs

Changes to Army programs that are meant to retain quality noncommissioned officers will take effect when the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

Back in May, Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning signed the Army Directive 2016-19 (Retaining a Quality Noncommissioned Officer Corps), instituting new policies that are meant to ensure the Army retains its best Soldiers while offering NCOs with the most potential an avenue for continued service.

The directive changes the Bar to Continued Service Program, the NCO Career Status Program, and Retention Control Point System. The changes will be felt across the enlisted spectrum, particularly among mid-career to senior-level NCOs.

Under the Bar to Continued Service program, formerly known as the Bar to Reenlistment Program, all enlisted ranks in the active and Reserve components can receive notice that they must improve their performance or face separation from service, despite having re-enlisted indefinitely.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey congratulates Sgt. Kevin LaRose on his re-enlistment during a ceremony May 18 on Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. The Bar to Re-enlistment program will become the Bar to Continued Service Program and will apply to Soldiers at all points in their careers. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas Duval)
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey congratulates Sgt. Kevin LaRose on his re-enlistment during a ceremony May 18 on Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. The Bar to Re-enlistment program will become the Bar to Continued Service Program and will apply to Soldiers at all points in their careers. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas Duval)

“The big change … is that the (Bar to Continued Service Program) now affects all enlisted ranks,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Kouneski, Fort Jackson’s command career counselor. “Where previously (the program was) Bar to Re-enlistment and, if you were in the indefinite re-enlistment program, you could say, ‘The commander can’t bar me to re-enlist because I’m already indefinite.’ Now if a Soldier has unsatisfactory performance, the commander can bar you from continued service.”

The bar will be reviewed at periods of three and six months before separation procedures begin.

“(The reviews) are putting you on notice you are a candidate for separation under the new Bar to Continued Service,” Kouneski said. “As a Soldier in the Army you (must) … continue to find new ways to better yourself, because as the Army reduces in size it naturally becomes more competitive.”

Under the new directive, Soldiers who wish to re-enlist under the NCO Career Status Program, formerly the Indefinite Re-enlistment Program, must wait until their 12th year of service to apply. The new entry point is meant to coincide with the Army’s new retirement system, which begins Jan. 1, 2018.

The directive also reduces the years senior NCOs can stay in the Army by reducing Retention Control Point levels for sergeants first class, master and first sergeants, and sergeants major.

This change, which will take place over a three-year period, is designed to cause “senior enlisted personnel to exit earlier than anticipated and to mitigate the effects on families and on the Army.”

Soldiers seeking more information on these upcoming changes should contact their unit career counselors.

 

204th Military Intelligence Battalion welcomes new NCOs

By MEGHAN PORTILLO
NCO Journal

Surrounded by exhibits depicting the greatness of the NCO Corps through the ages, nine new leaders were welcomed into the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion in an NCO induction ceremony Sept. 8 at the NCO Heritage and Education Center at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The inductees were addressed by guest speaker Sgt. Maj. Richard Tucker, who until his recent retirement was the director for the Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer Course at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
The inductees were addressed by guest speaker Sgt. Maj. Richard Tucker, who until his recent retirement was the director for the Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer Course at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

“These Soldiers have shown they are no longer ‘worker bees.’ They have set themselves apart as professionals,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ken Bean, command sergeant major of the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade. “I’m very proud of the NCOs in our NCO Corps and where they are today. I see them stepping up in a time of turmoil to train and take care of our nation.”

At the start of the ceremony, the inductees were addressed by guest speaker Sgt. Maj. Richard Tucker, who until his recent retirement was the director for the Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer Course at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. He encouraged them to prioritize their education and to take their roles as Army leaders seriously.

Nine new NCOs were inducted into the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion on Thursday during a ceremony at the NCO Heritage Center at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
Nine new NCOs were inducted into the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion during a ceremony Sept. 8 at the NCO Heritage and Education Center at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

“People like me, I’m a dinosaur,” Tucker said. “It’s almost time for me to go. As a matter of fact, I walk the stage tomorrow for my retirement ceremony. And right now, I go to sleep every night nice and peaceful, because I know the greatest men and women of this country are protecting me. It’s you guys. You staff sergeants, sergeants first class: You are the future.”

Sgt. Davonte Winn walks under an archway, signifying his transition from junior enlisted Soldier to NCO. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
Sgt. Davonte Winn walks under an archway, signifying his transition from junior enlisted Soldier to NCO. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

Following Tucker’s address, the audience joined the inductees in reciting the NCO Creed. Then, three NCOs representing the NCOs of the past, present and future lit three candles displayed behind wooden “N,” “C” and “O” letters. A red candle represented valor, a white candle honor and integrity, and a blue candle vigilance.

As their names were called, the young men and women each walked under a wooden archway signifying their transition from junior enlisted to NCO and then signed their name alongside their command sergeant major’s on their certificate – the “Charge to the Newly Promoted Noncommissioned Officer.” To end the ceremony, the group proudly sang the Army song.

Sgt. Luis Peluyera Rivera, one of the nine inducted during the ceremony, said he is proud of his and his comrades’ accomplishments.

“I feel like I’ve made it. We are the backbone of the Army, and it is great to finally be a part of it,” he said.

The charge to the newly promoted noncommissioned officer, signed by both the NCO and the command sergeant major, states, “I will discharge carefully and diligently the duties of the grade to which I have been promoted and uphold the traditions and standards of the Army. I understand that Soldiers of lesser rank are required to obey my lawful orders. Accordingly, I accept responsibility for their actions. As a noncommissioned officer, I accept the charge to observe and follow the orders and directions given by supervisors acting according to the laws, articles and rules governing the discipline of the Army, I will correct conditions detrimental to the readiness thereof. In so doing, I will fulfill my greatest obligation as a leader and thereby confirm my status as a noncommissioned officer.” (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
The charge to the newly promoted noncommissioned officer, signed by both the NCO and the command sergeant major, states, “I will discharge carefully and diligently the duties of the grade to which I have been promoted and uphold the traditions and standards of the Army. I understand that Soldiers of lesser rank are required to obey my lawful orders. Accordingly, I accept responsibility for their actions. As a noncommissioned officer, I accept the charge to observe and follow the orders and directions given by supervisors acting according to the laws, articles and rules governing the discipline of the Army, I will correct conditions detrimental to the readiness thereof. In so doing, I will fulfill my greatest obligation as a leader and thereby confirm my status as a noncommissioned officer.” (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
Three NCOs acting on behalf of NCOs of the past, present and future light three candles. The red candle represents valor, the white honor and integrity, and the blue vigilance. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
Three NCOs acting on behalf of NCOs of the past, present and future light three candles. The red candle represents valor, the white honor and integrity, and the blue vigilance. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

WCAP NCO forced to skip last race, but still closes strong at Rio Paralympics

By PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

Sgt. Elizabeth Marks bowed out of what would have been her final race at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

But that didn’t rob fans of seeing her finish her inaugural Games in impressive fashion.

The Paralympic swimmer from the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program of Fort Carson, Colorado, said Saturday on Twitter that she would not participate in the SM8 200-meter individual medley competition, which was scheduled for that day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, due to an undisclosed medical issue. Her message exhibited the unselfishness that has garnered Marks so much attention this year.

“I didn’t have my best to give, but another girl might,” the tweet stated.

But Marks’ best was definitely on display the previous night.

On Friday, Marks swam the second leg of the women’s 4×100 medley relay. The Americans finished in third place behind Great Britain and Australia. While the finish wasn’t golden, the fact that the U.S. team was able to reach the podium at all was an impressive feat given its difficult start. And Marks began turning the tide.

Hannah Aspden struggled as she swam the opening backstroke leg of the medley. She fell about five meters behind the pace of the leaders and came to the end of her 100-meter swim in fifth place, with sixth-place Japan not far behind. That’s when Marks went to work.

The 26-year-old swam the breaststroke leg, the same event in which she had already claimed a Paralympic gold medal. Marks’ effort during the medley was frenzied. She managed to speed into fourth place past the Netherlands before the turn. From there she closed the gap on third-place Canada to less than 10 meters. Marks did this despite being in the pool with five swimmers who compete in faster disability classifications. She would finish the leg with a time of 1:28.52, not even a half-second slower than her winning time of 1:28.13 in the SB7 100-meter breaststroke the previous weekend, which set a new world record.

It was prime position for her teammates Elizabeth Smith and Michelle Konkoly to wrest third-place away from Canada. It also ended up being the end to her time in Brazil. Marks finished the Games with a gold and bronze medal, fitting hardware for a Soldier and competitor who has been in the headlines throughout the year.

Marks gained international attention earlier this year after asking Prince Harry to take one of the gold medals she won at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida. Marks wanted the British royal to give the medal to the English hospital that saved her life. In 2014, while traveling to the Invictus Games in London, Marks fell ill and required a lifesaving procedure at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge. She missed the Games that year, but said she was lucky to come home alive. Offering her medal to the hospital was the best way she could say “thank you.” The gesture caught the world’s attention, culminating with her being awarded the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPYs in July.

Her ordeal in England wasn’t the first time Marks underwent a stint in the hospital. She suffered bilateral hip injuries while deployed to Iraq as a combat medic in 2010. Those injuries are what pushed Marks to the pool in the first place. She has previously stated that she hopes her accomplishments can offer faith and optimism to her fellow wounded Soldiers.

Now, armed with medals earned on the grandest stage in sports, it appears Marks will remain a beacon of hope for quite some time.

NCO posts highest finish for American man in rifle prone at Rio Paralympics

By PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

Staff Sgt. John Joss may not have reached the medal stand Wednesday, Sept. 14, at the 2016 Paralympic Games, but the four-year member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit certainly proved his name belongs alongside the shooting world’s elite.

Joss started the day next to 40 of the world’s best shooters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, competing in the mixed R6-50-meter rifle prone competition. By day’s end, his scores netted him a fifth-place finish. It was the highest finish for an American man at the competition.

While not bringing home any hardware is certainly disappointing, the top-five finish showcased Joss’ deftness with the rifle in his first Paralympics. He qualified for the medal round after a sixth-place finish in outdoor qualification amid blustery conditions. National Paralympic Coach Bob Foth said Joss made smart decisions throughout qualification in reading wind speed and movement. Once action moved indoors for the finals, Joss improved his standing by one position.

Staff Sgt. John Joss placed fifth in the mixed R6 50-meter rifle prone event Sept. 14 at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (File photo courtesy of U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit)
Staff Sgt. John Joss placed fifth in the mixed R6 50-meter rifle prone event Sept. 14 at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (File photo courtesy of U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit)

“This is totally different than anything I’ve ever done before,” Joss told USA Shooting after the competition. “I felt calm and on fire at the same time. I know I was working with a kind of shaky hold. I was making smart decisions, but there isn’t much I could do at the end. I did the best I could, and I really took a lot out of it. It’s hard to hit a target that small alone, then when you have an elevated heart rate, a pulse in your hand and your front sight starts moving around, it makes it a lot harder.”

Joss’ performance is also testament to how far he has come since sustaining both physical injuries and emotional hardship in 2007. Joss had both of his legs seriously injured in an improvised explosive device attack while deployed north of Baghdad, Iraq. He returned to the United States to undergo multiple surgeries and begin a grueling rehabilitation process before he was dealt another blow — Joss’ father was killed in a vehicle accident two months after his arrival at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Joss subsequently made the difficult decision to amputate his right leg. He began shooting competitively at Fort Benning, Georgia, to supplement his rehabilitation. Joss soon found success. He joined the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit in 2012. In 2013 and 2014, he won gold at the USA Shooting National Championships. Two years later, he has served notice to the rest of the shooting world that he will be a force in the coming years.

Sgt. Elizabeth Marks broke a Paralympic swimming world record in winning her first gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Marks won the women's 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1.28:13. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)
Sgt. Elizabeth Marks broke a Paralympic swimming world record in winning her first gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Marks won the women’s 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1.28:13. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)

WCAP swimmer back in action

Sgt. Elizabeth Marks returns to the pool Thursday, Sept. 15, for the first of three events she is scheduled to compete in.

The Paralympic swimmer from the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program competes in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay Sept. 15. She will swim the 4×100-meter medley relay Friday, Sept. 16, and closes the Rio Paralympics in the SM8 200-meter individual medley.

Marks has already claimed one gold medal at these Paralympics, winning the SB7 100-meter breaststroke with a world record time during the weekend.