Similar to any corporation or industry, transforming our Army demands a business approach to ensure we can continue to achieve our mission and support our No. 1 customer -- the brave men and women serving on the front lines.It's imperative that all members of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command, from top to bottom, understand why the Army is taking steps to reduce its end strength. The Army's presence in overseas contingencies requires fewer Soldiers in our formation as U.S. operations in theater continue to wind down. Consequently, we cannot continue to operate financially or at the same level of resourcing as we have in previous years.The 503,000 Soldiers in the active component today will be reduced over the next seven months to meet a congressionally mandated end strength of 490,000 at the end of fiscal 2015. Furthermore, should the ramifications of sequestration continue, the number of Soldiers making up the Army by fiscal 2019 has the potential to decrease to 420,000.Several changes have been implemented to ensure our Army has the necessary resources for modernization and training while still maintaining the mission capability to engage in conflicts wherever they may be. Personnel and force structure changes taking place as part of the Army transformation directly affect the MICC's transformation efforts, and you must be prepared.Among those changes are a number of programs designed to strategically target Soldiers in certain year groups and ranks in an effort to manage the force. Those include the Qualitative Service Program, Qualitative Management Program, Temporary Early Retirement Authority and selective early retirement boards.Sadly, many of the Soldiers impacted by these personnel actions will come to find that they need not look any further than themselves when searching for answers on their selection to leave the service. Army leaders realize that there are a lot of people in our formation whose records and performance aren't in line with our values, which becomes even more critical when identifying Soldiers to fill critical positions of special trust.Although the vast majority of NCOs I encounter along with the commanding general during our visits to contracting sites are exceptional performers, there is a fraction that must be held accountable for noncompliance with our Army values. I charge all leaders and supervisors to ensure that the essence of the total Soldier is accurately captured in evaluation reports.The new NCO Evaluation Report that becomes effective Sept. 1, 2015, is designed to best measure and evaluate that performance. It's imperative that any leader or supervisor clearly understand how the NCOER must accurately reflect the Soldier. Our actions today in accurately capturing and evaluating the performance of our Soldiers will have a profound impact on what the future of our Army will look like. Every leader plays a decisive role in shaping our Army and identifying the right people to continue serving our profession.Soldiers remaining in formation at the end of fiscal 2019 will be our future Army. In order to get it right, our loyalty must be aligned with Army values and standards. This means making the tough decisions and holding everybody accountable. As an organization of mid- and senior-career level Soldiers, I expect accountability and discipline to be accomplished through self-policing in order to preserve our Army culture. Also, preserving our Army culture through accountability cannot be lost in the cultural gap I've witnessed during office visits as baby boomers leave our service and a new generation moves up to lead our service.Holding people accountable with these force management and evaluation tools is only one piece of preserving Army culture. Our culture is underscored by our loyalty to Army values. Soldiers who deserve to be on this team will be there at the end of fiscal 2019.There's no doubt that as we move closer to the end of this fiscal year, our command is going to lose some great people. However, there are a number of resources available to our Soldiers and their families to make sure they are being treated with dignity and respect as they transition from service.The Soldier for Life transition assistance program provides career assistance that includes training, counseling and a multitude of resources all in an effort to secure employment before a Soldier leaves active duty. I can't emphasize enough how important it is for commanders, directors and supervisors across the MICC to fully support the Soldier for Life transition assistance program, formerly known as the Army Career and Alumni Program. Additionally, the Army Materiel Command's Always a Solider veterans initiative is another excellent program for Soldiers transitioning from active duty who wish to continue to serve our nation. Since its inception in 2005, the program has placed more than 600 veterans into AMC civilian positions.
That new start doesn't begin when Soldiers hang up the uniform. It starts at minimum of 12 to 24 months prior by dedicating a sufficient amount of time to transition efforts. Accomplishing the mission always remains essential, but managing your resources to ensure the successful transition for our teammates is just as critical. There are a lot of jobs available with industry; however, that mindset of working our Soldiers to the last day may hinder a successful search for employment. We owe it to our Soldiers and their families to provide the best possible start in civilian life when their commitment to our nation has been fulfilled.