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HRC commander explains new OER, troop transitions as force downsizes

Email   Print   Share By Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
January 24, 2013 | News
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Maj. Gen. Richard Mustion, commanding general, HRC, reviews the new OER and its implementation process during a briefing for officers Jan. 16 at Club Hood. Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
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Division West Commanding General Maj. Gen. Perry Wiggins and HRC Commanding General Maj. Gen. Richard Mustion and discuss the new OER following Mustion’s briefing about the new report Jan. 16 at Club Hood. Mustion is visiting posts across the Army, meeting with all ranks, to inform the field about coming changes with the OER and the Army at-large. Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
Downsizing of the force, a new officer evaluation report and optimizing resources and manpower were the focal points when Human Resources Command’s commanding general spent a few days at Fort Hood last week meeting with Soldiers at all levels and discussing changes going on within his command and how those changes will affect Soldiers and their Families.

Maj. Gen. Richard Mustion assumed command of HRC in August and since then has been

visiting installations across the Army to meet with leaders and Soldiers.

The focus of Mustion’s visit was multi-pronged: to talk to Soldiers and commanders at the installation and inform them of some of the major policy changes and process changes going on within the Army and to provide awareness of overarching concepts for reshaping the Army.

First and foremost, the general said, is the Dec. 1 implementation of a new officer evaluation report, which will replace the current OER that has been in use since 1997.

“The current OER has served our Army very well, but is not reflective of our Army leadership doctrine,” Mustion said.

The new form will help make sure officers are evaluated in line with the leadership attributes and competences of current doctrine and on the correct scale, he said.

In addition, the revised OER clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the members on the rating chain to focus raters on assessing the performance of an officer and focus senior raters on the potential of officers for promotion, command and school, instilling increased accountability within the members of a rating chain.

With the new report, officers will be evaluated according to grade plate.

“We will transition to three different OERs, one focused on company grade and junior warrants, field grade and senior warrants, strategic leaders,” Mustion said. “There will be three different reports that focus on competency and attributes and level of performance expected at those different grade plates.”

To prepare for the December implementation, Mustion and his team have been going out and informing officers with educational briefings.

Before the implementation, HRC will develop mobile training that will come back around to the field beginning in the summer, Mustion said.

That team will sit down with individual officers and small groups to train them on the mechanics of the evaluation, how to write the evaluation and how it will be used utilizing a new interactive online tool that HRC is in the process of developing.

Mustion’s command is also writing the Army regulation that supports the policies associated with the evaluation report and developing a Department of the Army pamphlet that talks about the process and procedures.

“HRC’s role is to complete all this in a manner that allows the Army to transition into the new evaluation report by Dec. 1,” the general said.

So far, the OER has received a receptive response.

“The feedback has been positive,” Mustion said. “It’s been an acknowledgement of the confusion that exists between raters and senior raters trying to talk about the same things in evaluation reports.”

Mustion said he believes there is still some uncertainty, but there’s understanding and acknowledgement that there is a need to move from the current evaluation to something that’s more reflective of current doctrine and more reflective of those things leaders are expected to do.

“It’s something that allows us to better identify great performers and those officers with great potential without creating an overly competitive environment or an environment that would be disadvantageous for the officer corps,” Mustion said.

Leader development, broader opportunities within the Army, transition assistance and records accuracy are some HRC priorities for Soldiers across the ranks, especially as the force downsizes.

Mustion’s efforts have been not only to inform about policy through executive gatherings and professional development sessions, but also

to receive feedback from those troops of all ranks.

“Part of one of our major objectives at Human Resources Command is to increase our engagement with the Army,” Mustion said. “That engagement is going out and talking to the field, like places here at Fort Hood, so that the folks in the field have an understanding of the Army’s manning priorities, of major changes that are going on in the Army personnel system, and at the same time, gain feedback from the field.”

The concerns Mustion is receiving deal largely with the uncertainty many troops have as the Army downsizes.

“First and foremost is the concern about the future and what does that future mean,” Mustion said. “It’s about how the effect of the Army’s reshaping effort or reduction in the force of the Army is going to affect our Soldiers.”

While he cannot specifically indicate how this will happen for the individual Soldier, Mustion outlined for Soldiers the overall concepts that Army leadership has adopted.

He also wanted to reassure the force that “we will exercise extreme care and extreme compassion for our Soldiers and our Families as we move forward.”

Mustion said his installation visits are a part of that reassurance.

“There is a lot of concern about the future for our Army, so we’re going to remain engaged with the Army, continuing to communicate with the field about how our Army will shape itself as we move to the future and what that will mean for each Soldier and each Family member,” Mustion said.

He urged Soldiers across the Army to ensure their personnel records are up-to-date, accurate and correctly reflect their performance in the Army, and that those records reflect positively on the Soldier.

“The other message Soldiers have to get is as our Army gets smaller, we’re going to retain our very best Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers and it’s very important that Soldiers take ownership of their personnel record, making sure they set the best foot forward for consideration for promotion and command and school and to remain in the Army,” the general said, adding that Soldiers should get a current photo taken that accurately reflects their current appearance and includes the right awards.

Make sure records reflect performance and awards, OERs or enlisted record briefs are current and accurate, Mustion said.

“Those are the principle documents that will be used to shape the future of the Army, whether it’s for retention, a Soldier applying to re-enlist in the Army, or for a centralized selection board making the decision about promotion,” he said. “As we begin to drawdown, Soldiers need to get down to the basics and ensuring their records are accurate and a true reflection of their performance.”

Unfortunately, Mustion said, some Soldiers will have to leave the Army as the force downsizes.

“We want Soldiers to leave our Army knowing that our nation and our Army are very thankful for their service; while we’d like to retain every Soldier in the Army, unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to do that as we work toward the future,” Mustion said.

For those Soldiers who will transition out of the Army, Mustion said the Army’s reinvigorated Transition Assistance Program is available to help with the move into the civilian workforce.

“The program now is truly an integrated, interagency effort,” Mustion said, noting the partnership with the Department of Defense, each of the services, the Department of Labor and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Extended briefings about programs, benefits and entitlements coupled with the Army Career Alumni Program’s network with industry, better assist Soldiers and Family members to put their best foot forward in getting the right job, he said.

The commitment to helping Families stays strong as well, the general added.

“As we move to the future, we’ll continue to invest and maintain our Families, and look out for our Families and take care of them with care and compassion,” Mustion said. “Just as we draw our force down and reduce our force, we’ll make sure we’re taking care of Families at the same time.”
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