FORT KNOX, Kentucky (July 15, 2016) -- Up and coming NCOs interested in a rare career broadening assignment have until Sept. 8 to submit application packets for the Enlisted Aide Program, or EAP.

The program is open to all active-component enlisted Soldiers in the ranks of sergeant (promotable) through master sergeant, regardless of military occupational specialty, said Army Human Resources Command enlisted aide professional development NCO Master Sgt. Christian Price.

Enlisted aides serve on the personal staff of a general officer and undertake a wide array of day-to-day tasks that free the officer to concentrate on his or her primary military and official duties. In practical terms that can include maintaining quarters, uniforms and military personal equipment; serving as the quarters point of contact; conducting official social functions; and preparing daily meals.

A selection panel will convene Sept. 13 to review applications and select the best qualified Soldiers. Publication of the selectee list is planned for early November, Price said.

The call for applications is explained in a Military Personnel Message, or MILPER, issued June 30 by HRC's Force Sustainment Division, which can be accessed on the web at www.hrc.army.mil (CAC or DSLogon access required). Detailed eligibility requirements, helpful program information, and a completed model packet can be viewed on the General Officer EAP web page at http://go.usa.gov/xcFhh.

Prospective applicants should pay particular attention to the relevant eligibility criteria and take advantage of the personal statement section to expand on their talents and strengths, said Price.

"I would recommend that the Soldier definitely take advantage of the personal statement, captivate the panel to say, 'This is not just what I am going to do, but this is what I can provide to the team.' And the writing is also very important because...NCOs have to focus more on writing skills. It's a skill that the panel can take a look at and say, 'This NCO has what it takes,'" he said.

Selected Soldiers who have not attended the enlisted aide training course or the advanced culinary skills training course at Fort Lee, Virginia, will be scheduled for training. Selected candidates outside the primary MOS of 92G will also attend the basic culinary course, said Price.

"What will happen is, when the service member gets selected by the panel, we are going to get them into the training as soon as possible," he said. "We will give them training before they are selected by a general officer. That's the intent."

Once required training is complete, the selected NCOs will be added to the enlisted aide personnel management ready pool, which is managed by the Department of the Army Staff.

"They oversee the program," said Price.

Those selected for assignment to a general officer will be assigned by Quartermaster Branch to fill an Additional Skill Identifier, ASI Z5, enlisted aide, position. Incidentally, the 92-G MOS, formerly known as food specialist, has been officially re-titled as culinary specialist since Oct. 1 of last year, Price said.

Assigned enlisted aides incur a two-year service obligation, which can be extended an additional year based on the needs of the Army. Assignments may be at the one-star through four-star level at commands across the tactical, operational and strategic spectrum of the force.

Those who successfully complete their EA tour will return to their original branch for an operational Army assignment. That is designed to ensure their leadership and MOS proficiency skill sets are maintained, an additional benefit to the Army of the broadening experience, Price said.

The EAP includes NCOs from the Army's sister services too, giving Soldiers a joint training experience that empowers them to exercise and integrate their strategic, tactical and operational capabilities. It can prepare the select few -- there are a total of 81 Department of Defense authorized billets across the Army -- for enhanced leadership roles going forward, he said.

"That's very selective. When looking at the Total Soldier concept, I think that if you place a Soldier in the EA community, it's going to make that NCO a lot smarter. You are training the Soldier to be a 'three-headed' type of a leader: strategically sound, tactically smart and, most importantly, operationally ready to tackle anything.

"Coming out of the program you will be able to function in so many different organizations, you are going to be an automatic asset. It's genius," Price said.

Soldiers who complete their EA assignments may return to the program after their follow-on operational tour by submitting another application packet and being selected for the candidate pool. Candidates who were not selected by previous panels may re-submit their packets for review. Soldiers who have a service remaining requirement for a bonus do not qualify to apply for EAP, with the exception of 92-Gs, who are exempt from that rule, he said.

Price said there is one other major caveat: only NCOs who apply will be considered. So Soldiers who are interested should do their research and preparation now to meet the Sept. 8 application deadline. He encouraged interested NCOs to contact him directly with questions or concerns.

"Just from my own professional experience, I think it's more relatable if the Soldier can talk to someone who has been in the job. They are more receptive to listening to how they can be successful," he said.

Price can be reached via email at christian.d.price.mil@mail.mil and by phone at 502-613-5181.