FORT SILL, Okla. (April 17, 2014) -- The Army is restructuring from 510,000 active-duty Soldiers to 490,000 in a number of ways. Natural attrition through End Term of Service dates is one, but there are also programs to make sure quality Soldiers stay in.
"We may have Soldiers that are qualified to re-enlist, they meet that basic eligibility that we look for, but now we have to go a little deeper. And, even though they may be qualified, are they the 'best' qualified for continuous service?" said Sgt. Maj. Russell Paradis, Fort Sill command career counselor.
QUALITATIVE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM - QMP
"It has been out for a long time. It took a little hiatus in 2002, with everything going on overseas and then three, four years ago they went ahead and put it back into action," said Paradis.
According to Army Directive 2014-06 released April 10, the program looks at Soldiers who are in the ranks of staff sergeants to command sergeants major to see if they have any derogatory reports in their file.
"Sometimes immaturity and bad decisions can come back to get you. If you're lower enlisted and you did something stupid, we're going to get some manual labor out of you or give you an Article 15 and you can get beyond that. I think as you progress in grade there's less tolerance."
Paradis said generally the Army is looking back on the last five evaluations. If Soldiers are selected under QMP, they will be notified of the specific evaluation the derogatory report was on.
"Typically those that are identified under QMP -- they know. It should be no surprise and honestly if they are surprised, they're afforded the opportunity to appeal."
Soldiers have the option to appeal QMP, or to accept it and retire in-lieu-of. Paradis said if they choose the second option, it affords them at least a year to transition out of the Army.
If a Soldier decides to appeal, the onus is on that Soldier to get supporting documents to Human Resource Command by the suspense date so it can be considered. Paradis said Fort Sill's Personnel and Administration office is also involved in the process.
If the Army decides against the appeal, the Soldier has six months to prepare for separation.
"When these boards go down they're not only looking for the potential of promotion, they're looking for potential for separation from the Army," said Paradis. "The big emphasis by the Army is the Army Values these small little blocks. If any of those are 'no' then you run the risk for QMP."
Paradis said if they are marked "no" it's accompanied by the following:
General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand.
Conviction by court martial or Article 15.
Relief for cause on an NCO Evaluation Report.
Senior rating of four, which is fair, or five, which is poor on their evaluation.
Academic evaluation indicating misconduct or academic failure in military courses like Warrior Leader Course, or Senior Leader Course.
"When you put in a job application and it runs through a system and looks for those key words, it's the same principle here. Those key things, the Army Values, the General Memorandum of Reprimand, those type of things raise red flags."
Paradis said if a Soldier does fall under QMP they run the risk of recoupment of benefits that have been used up to that point. They may also lose the right to transfer education benefits to family members.
"It's the QMP. It's a Soldier quality tool. If you're doing bad things then why are we going to reward you with these incentives that are out there?"
Soldiers who are exempt from QMP are those who have an approved retirement; are previously retained on active duty by a QMP board (provided no new basis for QMP consideration is documented since the earlier retention determination); hold the rank of CSM/SGM and are within two years of the retention control point for their rank, or are promotable to the next higher grade when the basis for QMP consideration was filed in the Soldier's Army Military Human Resource Records, and included in the official file seen by the promotion selection board for the next higher grade.
QUALITATIVE SERVICE PROGRAM - QSP
QSP has been in effect for the last two years, and it is a reduction in force tool for the ranks of staff sergeant through command sergeant major meant to keep military occupational specialties thriving.
"They want to make sure you're not stagnant, that you don't get complacent."
Paradis said an example would be a Soldier who was promoted six years ago, hasn't taken any steps to get promoted and is in a military occupational specialty that is overstrengthed.
"Just because you're being considered doesn't mean you're going to be selected," said Paradis. "You just happen to fall within those parameters."
Paradis said the Soldier has options. They can appeal QSP with the goal of staying on active duty, or request to be separated from the Army, or reclassify into another military occupational specialty.
TEMPORARY EARLY RETIREMENT AUTHORITY - TERA
If a Soldier falls under QSP and they have more than 15 years of service but less than 20 years of total active duty service, they can apply for TERA.
Paradis said TERA is not an entitlement; Soldiers have to request it and approval is not guaranteed.
Under TERA, Soldiers would get a percentage of their retirement based on their length of service, receive an honorable discharge and would not have to forfeit the transfer of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to family members.
"The QSP and the QMP maintain the health of those career management fields. It's kind of like checks and balances," said Paradis.
TERA began two years ago, and is expected to end in 2018.
Paradis said officers are susceptible to QMP and QSP as well, although they would deal with their branch manager rather than a career counselor.
HOW TO PREPARE
"With QSP, you think you've been doing the right thing. It's almost like a natural disaster. You don't expect it, but it can happen. You've got to be prepared," said Paradis. "What you do to prepare yourself for success in the military should also be some of those things that you want to try to do to set yourself up for success after the Army."
Paradis said Soldiers have to separate themselves from their peers.
"The last 10-12 years with everything going on in the Middle East the focus was on the fight. Now we're getting into a garrison-type environment. It's not all about how many deployments you have ... you still have to get your required schooling done and then, of course, any additional schooling to get that promotion. You can't just take that cruise-control mentality."
He pointed out the harsh reality that a degree doesn't necessarily guarantee a job, but it is another tool to use.
"Hopefully, it will get you in the small stack of applications of whatever you want to do and get you in for an interview. It's on you and your people skills and your ability to communicate to sell yourself at that point."
Taking advantage of opportunities while still serving can prepare a Soldier for steps outside of the military. Paradis suggested Soldiers seek degrees or certification programs and focus on financial savings while still in the Army.
Paradis said at the end of the day, all a Soldier can do is live the Army Values, do their job well and seek self-improvement.
"Commanders now really have to make some tough decisions based off their mission and these guidelines. We really stress the whole Soldier or the whole person concept."
For more information, contact unit career counselors; for financial services, call 580-442-4916; and education matters, Harry S Truman Education Center at 580-442-3201.
Army offers early retirement opportunity for Soldiers
Army.mil: Inside the Army News
STAND-TO!: Qualitative Service Program
Temporary Early Retirement Authority