As an avid football fan, one of my favorite times of the year is the NFL draft. I am drawn to this process not just because of the implications for my favorite team, but also because of the hiring process. NFL General Managers for all 32 NFL teams analyze critical statistics for over 3,000 collegiate athletes to ensure they select the right player for their respective team during the draft. Every player is drafted with the intention that he will uphold their organization’s values, mesh with their culture, and perform their role on the team resulting in victories. Selecting the right player will positively impact each NFL team for years; the future of the organization is shaped by this particular personnel transaction.
The Army and the NFL are similar when it comes to the implications of personnel moves. I realize that I am drawn to this process because as an HR operator, my most important task is ensuring that my unit has the “right players”. I am the personnel “General Manager (GM)” for my organization and I’m charged with accomplishing my Commander’s vision by shaping my unit’s personnel readiness, one Soldier at a time. Often this task is overshadowed by the mountains of daily Essential Personnel Services (EPS) actions; however, the way that every S1/G1/HR Section must make itself invaluable to their respective organization is through strength management.
The first step in strength management is identifying what your unit or organization currently has in its personnel inventory, which skill sets are missing, projected additions/losses, and the Commander’s priorities at every level. This is accomplished by utilizing our numerous Army HR weapons systems (numerous for now, but will be streamlined with the fielding of IPPS-A (Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army)) to build products such as MOSIs and personnel slates to not just account for Soldiers, but to also project what your organization will look like in the future.
Being able to project personnel shortfalls is essential to every Army unit or organization. How can an organization embark on a road to deployment without knowing when crew strength targets will be met? As HR operators, we must let it be known that we have these abilities so that when your organization plans crew served gunneries and CTC rotations, Army HR professionals are involved in the dialogue to ensure that the unit has the right personnel on the ground, at the right time, to ensure success during critical training events.
The 101st Division Artillery (DIVARTY) S1 section accomplishes this by centering their personnel conversations with the Division G1 on the Brigade’s upcoming WFX and pushing to receive personnel gains prior to the exercise. This involves identifying where the Division G1 can divert late gains to other units so that the DIVARTY can receive early Soldier arrivals. Attempting to defer DIVARTY Soldiers who will PCS that the Division doesn’t have projected inbounds for, and expediting inprocessing with the DIVARTY’s inbound Soldiers through the installation reception process, are HR tools available to support the DIVARTY’s personnel readiness. We execute Brigade HR processes and start these conversations with our higher HQs early because they are our implied tasks in order to ensure units across the Division (like our Divarty) are properly manned. A S1/G1/HR Section that is unable to project personnel strength cannot do this and therefore faces an extremely uphill battle to being invaluable to their organization.
Unlike the NFL, the majority of Soldiers assigned to Army units or organizations are selected by Human Resources Command (HRC) instead of a draft. In order to be an effective HR operator, we cannot just annotate that we have an inbound. This will not help shape any unit’s future. As Army HR operators we must do more.
Upon identifying a personnel gain, we must immediately begin an analysis from a GM perspective. Our DIVARTY S1 Section does this by ensuring personal data is built into our strength reports such as current date of rank (DOR), basic active service date (BASD), medical readiness classification (MRC) code, suspension of favorable actions (FLAG) info, security clearance, professional development education status, and additional skill identifier/special qualification identifier (ASI/SQI). All of this data helps to determine if the inbound Soldier has the correct skill set the DIVARTY needs, if they are eligible to fill open positions, and if they are the right fit for our Brigade.
Over the past six months, our S1 Section has done this type of analysis and it has allowed us to engage in conversations with HRC career branches and the 101st G1 PRM section to ensure the DIVARTY is getting the “right players”. Our strength tools can identify inbound Soldiers who may have just reclassed and instead of throwing the Soldier directly into the fire, we can make their transition easier by attempting to build overlap with who they are replacing. In addition we can assign a sponsor that can act as a mentor, and/or switch inbound Soldiers with another subordinate unit if it supports a better readiness fit.
Army HR operators further become invaluable to their organization by using the personnel data collected to begin educating inbound Soldiers about their Commander’s vision/intent/goals. Ideally, we could pass the information off to sponsoring command teams, who tailor their sponsorship to the specific Soldier. A perfect example for the 101st Airborne Division is identifying Soldiers who are not Air Assault qualified since it is a key metric that is tracked at the Division level. Reaching out to these Soldiers and relaying expectations prior to their arrival decreases the amount of time between arrival and Air Assault school attendance, and increases the amount of time the Soldier can prepare to hit the ground running upon arrival. Soldiers who know arrival expectations are more likely to focus on achieving and improving required unit skills just as an NFL prospect would work on a skill that would make him attractive to an NFL team.
Projecting inbound DIVARTY Soldiers can be challenging as it is up to HR Operators to find ways to navigate around HRC targets, Army manning shortages, and distribution cycles to get the right Soldiers into our DIVARTY formations. We are also charged with figuring out how to retain key personnel within our formations, processing personnel out of the Army when required, and tracking readiness. Our Commanders measure our HR value and personnel readiness on how effective we are at filling our personnel shortages, retaining Soldiers, providing solutions to personnel readiness issues, and explaining realistic manning goals. In order to do this, we have to understand the Active Component Manning Guidance (ACMG), the Commander’s personnel priorities, and the HR resources at our disposal. The DIVARTY S1 section proved how invaluable it was over the past six months by reducing non-deployability statistics and simultaneously filling positions that have been vacant within the Brigade for extended periods, and moving excess personnel to fill shortages.
Understanding all of the Army HR resources at our fingertips is pivotal to shaping each unit’s future. Understanding how to mesh mission-essential requirements (MER) prioritization with the Commander’s personnel priorities, figuring out how to leverage the new KSB addition, identifying eligible enlisted Soldiers for key developmental (KD) stabilization jobs, and creating a dialogue with the medical/legal teams to accurately capture and reduce non-deployables, helps solidify our position as the most invaluable staff section within our Brigade.
The Soldiers that we bring into our units will never play in front of thousands of NFL fans, nor sign multi-million dollar football contracts. However, they will do something much more important. They will deploy in support of contingency operations and bring our Commanders’ vision to reality. The 101st DIVARTY is not manned at 100%, nor is every single Soldier deployable. However, through consistent analysis and utilization of the Army HR tools at our disposal, our command team knows that we will execute our next mission with the best team possible because we understand talent management and how to put it on the field. The 101st DIVARTY S1 Section is invaluable to our command because we are the only Brigade staff section that can shape the unit’s future – one Soldier at a time.
Defend and Serve! Rendezvous with Destiny! Guns of Glory!
About the Author – WO1 Harvey wrote this article as the 101st DIVARTY HR technician, but as of July 2019, he is currently serving as the HR Tech for 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. Point of contact info follows:
WO1 Marcus J. Harvey
VP, Plans & Programs
AGCRA Screaming Eagle Chapter
O: 270-798-5002 C: 931-220-1599