FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Army News Service, Nov. 19, 2015) — The biggest problem in the Army today is Soldiers who are non-deployable, and that’s having a direct impact on readiness, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey said. He said this construct is unsustainable in the complex operational environment that exits today.
Dailey spoke at the chief of staff of the Army-sponsored Noncommissioned Officer, or NCO, Solarium II, held at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College here, Nov. 19.
To give a scope of how big the problem is, there are currently about 50,000 Soldiers who are non-deployable. “That’s huge. That’s three out of the 10 divisions” that the Army currently has, he said, putting the numbers in context.
With the Army’s mission being to fight and win the nation’s wars, that’s totally unacceptable, he said. And, that mission applies to every Soldier, no matter what military occupational specialty they’re in.
“If you will not or cannot fight and win, then there’s no place for you in the Army,” Dailey said, “We have to become unemotional about this. We have a job to do.”
Dailey said he’s doing something about it. He’s proposing to the Army’s chief of staff that in the future, there should be a box to check on the Soldier’s evaluation form, indicating if that Soldier is deployable.
Soldiers with long-term medical profiles would be critically evaluated against their ability to recover and be deployable if called, under his proposal.
Dailey said he realizes this will take a big shift in culture. It’s natural to want to keep someone who has a profile, especially if that person is really of good character and skilled. But having so many Soldiers in non-deployable status is not good for the Army or good for the nation, particularly as the Army draws down from 490,000 to 450,000, and as more deployments loom on the horizon.
Dailey added that he wants to incentivize deployments by increasing deployment pay. He said he’ll do what he can to recommend this, as it would require policy changes.
The other incentive he said he wants for Soldiers who stay and are willing to deploy, is more promotion opportunities. He said he’s recommending reducing the retention control points to 20 years for E-6s, 24 for E-7s, 26 for E-8s, and 30 for E-9s. He also said he plans to recommend reducing the time-in-grade requirements for E-7 through E-9 by one year.
These changes would stimulate initiative in young leaders, and offer more opportunities for promotion by moving stagnant leaders into their transition phase, he said.
The second biggest issue facing the Army today, Dailey said, is leader development.
The Army is still using old standards of multiple-choice testing and rote-memory drills in training, instead of training leaders to be critical thinkers.
Having said that, “we have the best trained Army in the world in leader development,” but other nations, including potential adversaries, are catching up in their own leader-development efforts. A lot more realistic and relevant leader-development training will need to take place in the future.
One big problem in leader development, he acknowledged, is a lot of Soldiers shy away from attending courses. That’s going to change really fast, he said. By next year, if Soldiers are not attending, they risk Qualitative Management Program screenings under the Select-Train-Education-Promote, or STEP, program.
That will create more opportunities for Soldiers who do want to develop their leadership skills and get promoted, he added.
The No. 3 problem in today’s Army is talent management, Dailey said. “We’re really good at moving people around, but terrible at managing talent.”
A lot of that has to do with the Army being big and bureaucratic in nature, he conceded. “We’re working very hard to change that.”
The Army is in the process of evaluating all of the skills needed in each military occupational specialty, or MOS, and will be matching that to the knowledge, skills and attributes of Soldiers as well as what’s on their noncommissioned officer evaluation report, or NCOER.
Speaking of the NCOER, he said “80 percent of the Army thinks they’re in the top 20 percent” of the ratings “because we told them they are.”
The new NCOER promises a fairer assessment and more honest ratings, he added. Simple statistics bear out that “25 percent of the Army is in the top 25 percent of the Army.”
The SMA [sergeant major of the Army] also received what he termed “unfiltered feedback” from NCOs. That will be the topic of an upcoming ARNEWS article, which will discuss a program that could be overhauled because of participants’ recommendations.
Photo caption: Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey speaks at the chief of staff of the Army-sponsored Noncommissioned Officer Solarium II, held at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College on Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Nov. 19, 2015. U.S. Army photo by David Vergun.