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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Film crew, 2nd BCT contribute to Army study

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hi. – A team of Army officers from the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, along with a civilian video crew, conducted interviews with selected officers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (2BCT), 25th Infantry Division (AAB), April 20-21 at the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment classroom on post.

The team’s goal was to document different perspectives from BCT level officers and gain insight into ways the Army can update its officer corps management strategy.

“Current policies, combined with the demands and operational tempo of warfare, don’t meet all the Army’s needs,” said Col. Jeffrey D. Peterson, the director of the Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis (OEMA) in the Department of Social Sciences at the USMA at West Point, NY.

OEMA’s mission is to analyze policies regarding personnel and devise strategies for improving them. Part of building a case for the need to update policies involves gathering information from units like 2BCT on the eve of deployment to identify ways policies have helped or hindered preparation for deployment.

“We wanted to get some feedback based on one brigade’s experience, get that message back to the senior leadership and let them know challenges brigades are facing as they prepare to deploy,” Peterson said.

The fact that the brigade is filling an advise and assist role, and requires special skills and talents to accomplish that mission further highlights the need to update officer management policies.

“Our hypothesis is that current policies are not flexible enough to meet those demands of the brigade,” Peterson said.

Peterson and his team met with various commanders at battalion and company level within 2BCT, as well as other staff officers of all ranks, to get their perspective on how prepared they feel for deployment, if they wish they had opportunities to develop their skills in a different way and to uncover any other issues they may be facing with current manning policies.

“How selective is the army being when placing officers in key developmental jobs,” said Capt. Tony Smith, commander Alpha Co, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment. “The selection rate to Maj. is around 95 percent so it’s good the Army is evaluating its officer corps strategy.”

There is a need to better balance and manage the time for higher education, along with operational needs and being in positions of responsibility. Officers must have the ability to be critical thinkers starting at the lowest ranks and move from mastering the tactical portion of their specialty to embracing the broader strategic aspects of the future.

The research conducted will culminate in a conference scheduled to be held June 6-8 at West Point, NY where many of the Army’s senior leaders will discuss the framework for the new officer corps strategy.

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