Fort Knox, Ky. - Collaboration was the theme as sergeants major from across the Army gathered at the Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude Complex on Fort Knox, Kentucky, May 23-24, for a two-day, Army G-1 Sergeants Major Symposium, hosted by Sgt. Maj. Derek Johnson, Army Deputy Chief of Staff Personnel, G-1 sergeant major.
"It was important for me to bring the folks you see here today together in this type of setting to synchronize our message to help readiness levels across the board," Johnson said. "Everyone here, whether you work for PACOM, USARC or FORSCOM (Pacific Command, Army Reserve Command or Forces Command), has something to offer."
As the Army continues to grow and the battlefield becomes more complex, the human resources field is continuously finding more efficient ways to manage the changes that come right along with that growth.
"There are changes taking place in our human resources arena: there are personnel systems being changed, talent management is evolving, and the Sustainable Readiness Model is being implemented. These changes need to get down to the operator level and that is our job as personnel sergeants major."
Among those changes is the way the Army will track pay and personnel processes through the utilization of its Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army, or IPPS-A as it's called. Previously, the Army processed pay and personnel actions through a combined total of 54 different systems. With the fielding of IPPS-A, those systems will eventually be phased out and replaced by a single system.
"We are going into phases in regards to the implementation of the Integrated Personnel and Pay System," Johnson said. "First, we are starting with the integration of the National Guard and then in 2019 we are going to start bringing the active and Reserve component together. Once we get there, we'll be able to utilize every single Soldier either on the battlefield or away from the battlefield in a way that maximizes their talents."
Along with the implementation of IPPS-A, ways in which human resource experts with the Army man the force was a major topic of debate.
With the Army continuing to transition from the force generation model, in which decisive action brigades moved through predictable cycles of train, deployment, and reset, to a sustainable readiness model, where units must be able to maintain mission essential readiness levels at all times, identifying the right Soldiers for the right jobs becomes paramount to a unit's success.
"We are constantly working to select and bring in the best talent for particular units, but a lot of Reserve and National Guard Soldiers have a certain skill set that we don't necessarily have visibility of. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to identify those Soldiers up front so that we can match up those skill sets with the requirements of the mission? That's what we're constantly working towards," Johnson said.
"We want to make sure we match the right Soldier with the right MOS from the very beginning of the Soldier's life cycle. We need to get commanders and leaders involved in assessing their needs and then stay engaged with them as we go through the process," he said. "At the end of the day, it's up to us to get these units the tools they need to be victorious on the battlefield."
Johnson said he hopes to continue the symposium in the future and build upon its successes.
"With VTCs (video-teleconferences) and teleconferences there just isn't enough time to get visibility of all the issues that concern us," he said.
"With this we have the opportunity to pose those tough questions, and collaborate together to come up with a viable, sustainable solution."