By Nick DukeJanuary 15, 2014
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Jan. 15, 2014) -- The Maneuver Center of Excellence held a series of town hall meetings Monday to inform TRADOC civilian employees about impending changes for fiscal 2015 and beyond.
The MCoE anticipates a reduction of its table of distribution allowance for fiscal 2015, though the document has yet to be released.
MCoE Commanding General Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster said the coming reductions reflect the plans to downsize the Army's active force.
"As you know, our Army is going through a period of transition," McMaster said. "There's downward pressure on the size of our force, and as our Army gets smaller, there are going to be implications here at the Maneuver Center for our headquarters and all of our organizations. These changes are going to be deliberate and the whole process is going to be transparent. We will let all of you know what we are thinking about and how we're going to evolve our organizations. We're going to work with our labor partners and everybody to do the best we can for our mission and to take care of all our Department of the Army civilians who do such a tremendous job for our Army every day."
Plans call for the active-duty end strength of the Army to be reduced from 565,000 Soldiers to 490,000 Soldiers by the end of fiscal 2015.
"If you do some quick math, that's right about 20 percent," Col. John Marr, MCoE chief of staff, said. "When you have a 20 percent decrement to the total size of the force going out toward fiscal year 2017, you're going to have less folks to train, less officers to educate and a little bit less to do here at Fort Benning, so you're going to have the requisite structure … that will also come down so that Fort Benning fits inside that larger plan to go from 565,000 to 450,000 (by 2017)."
The metrics for developing the TDA for TRADOC installations are based on training load, said Bob Brown, MCoE director of plans, training, mobilization and security.
With the Army reducing its force, the training load at Fort Benning will likely decrease.
However, Marr said the MCoE hopes to be able to keep all TRADOC employees despite the TDA reductions, and said there are ways to achieve that goal. Fiscal 2015 ends at the end of September 2015, giving the MCoE staff time to evaluate the TDA and determine the best course of action.
"This gives us about 19 to 20 months to work our way through this," Marr said. "So, inside a period of 20 months, just like any other organization, you're going to have some folks who were going to retire anyway. Or, they're going to move or PCS. They were going to leave their employment here at Fort Benning. So, there's going to be some natural attrition."
Marr said there also could be more rounds of the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and the Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP) offered as part of an effort to avoid a reduction in force, though those additional rounds must be approved first.
Also, Marr said that just because the TDA reflects reduction in a given area does not necessarily mean employees in that area are in jeopardy of losing their jobs.
More specific information will come in future town hall meetings once the MCoE staff has received and reviewed the 2015 TDA.
"Once that document gets released and we can take a hard look at what specifics are affected, we'll probably move into some more aggressive methods of protecting ourselves and protecting all of you by looking at some focused retraining opportunities," Marr said.
No matter the shape the TDA reductions take, Marr said TRADOC civilians are a key part of the MCoE, and every effort will be made to protect their best interests.
"We value your service and dedication," Marr said. "The Army is still at war, and all of you are huge team members in making us successful and supporting the Soldiers who are downrange. You can draw a straight line between the Soldiers sitting in Afghanistan at a combat outpost today and the work that you guys do every day here at Fort Benning.
"We can't function without this civilian workforce. We really are leaning heavily on you for continuity, and we want to do things right. We want to make the changes that make sense, and keep the Maneuver Center most effective, so we would ask for all of you to be active participants in that and help us think through this."
The town halls were the first part of a process that McMaster said will be transparent every step of the way.
"As we look ahead at the implications for our headquarters, we're going to have to plan in a transparent way and keep everybody informed," McMaster said. "This is the first effort in doing that. We're working on restructuring the headquarters consistent with what the whole Army is going through."
The town hall may be viewed online at www.benning.army.mil, and Department of the Army civilians may submit any questions they have on the site or through their supervisors. A list of questions and answers will be made available on the site and will be published in next week's Bayonet & Saber.