Magazine article Army

OPMS XXI Changes Officer Career Paths

Magazine article Army

OPMS XXI Changes Officer Career Paths

Article excerpt

Under Officer Personnel Management System (OPMS) XXI, scheduled to become effective October 1, fieldgrade officers will compete for advancement within a career field created by the new system instead of within their year group, according to Army officials.

For officers on a single track in a functional area outside their branch, the new system will allow them "a reasonable opportunity" to be promoted to colonel or even general without battalion command time, according to Maj. Gen. David H. Ohle, director of the OPMS XXI task force, who said such officers currently have little chance of making colonel without coming up through the command track.

Although some senior officers will be "grandfathered" into the current system, the OPMS XXI plan calls for officers to be selected for a career track in one of four groups after their selection for promotion to major.

Army officials said that OPMS XXI also will create seven new functional areas: space operations, Army science, simulations, information operations, strategic intelligence, force development and human resource management. The largest of the four career fields created by OPMS XXI will be the operational career field, which will consist of officers who remain in branch assignments, regardless of whether the assignment is in combat arms, combat support or combat service support, and which Army officials said will be virtually the only career field in which officers will have the chance for battalion or brigade command. Officials said that about 65 percent of the Army's officers will go into the operational career field; the rest will be tracked in one of the other three career fields:

Information operations, which includes space operations, information systems officers, automation system engineers, simulations officers, public affairs officers, information operations officers and strategic intelligence officers.

Operational support, which includes foreign area officers and Army Acquisition Corps officers.

Army management, which includes comptrollers, human resource managers, operations research and systems analysis officers, permanent military academy professors, Army scientists, strategy and force development officers and nuclear weapons officers.

Officers will still choose a functional area as captains at the five-year mark under OPMS XXI, according to Gen. Ohle, who said that about 90 percent of all captains will command a company under the new system.

Advanced schooling also will change under OPMS XXI.

According to Gen. Ohle, plans are for all officers to attend a residence Command and General Staff College (CGSC) course at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., because officers who take the nonresidence CGSC feel they are at a career disadvantage. Gen. Ohle said he has recommended that the Army Management Staff College be moved from Fort Belvoir, Va., to be collocated with the CGSC. He added that within the next three or four years, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School will be discontinued and its material included in the Officer Advanced Course.

Gen. Ohle told Army officials that the downside to the new system will be that fewer battalion commanders could be promoted; however, the idea of the new system is to select the right officer for the right job.

According to Army officials, under OPMS XXI, the top officer in each functional area should ideally come up through the ranks in that functional area. For example, the director of the Army budget should be a comptroller. "We are trying to build that base of experience in all functional areas that need it," Gen. Ohle said. Career field-based professional development is one of the many changes to be instituted under OPMS XXI, and briefing teams are currently visiting Army units and installations worldwide to explain the new system.

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