During a visit to the U.S. Army Human Resources Command located on Fort Knox, Kentucky, April 6, the 23rd Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark T. Esper, talked talent management with Maj. Gen. Jason T. Evans, HRC commanding general, and other senior leadership.

HRC consists of dedicated professionals working tirelessly to help manage the human resources needs of soldiers, veterans, retirees, and Army families on a daily basis, world-wide.

"I think what you all do is the most important thing in the Army," Esper said. "The Army is about people; the people we bring in, the people we develop, the people we train. I really honestly can't think of any more important task."

As readiness remains the first priority, the Army is rethinking its roadmap for change, shifting from merely allocating and distributing personnel to more deliberately managing soldiers and civilians, and the talents they possess.

With this shift in the Army's talent management strategy, total force readiness is enhanced. HRC talent managers are now better able to differentiate talent among soldiers essentially increasing the effectiveness of the Army's greatest resource, its people.

"How do we think about what's the next level we can get to," said Esper.

"How do we reform DOPMA (Defense Officer Personnel Management Act) to really allow you (HRC) to manage our Army; bring soldiers in; develop them, etc., without the constraints of the law, without the constraints of the DOD, without the constraints of the Army? I think the constraints really inhibit us."

Army formations must be ready to fight tonight, winning wars in an increasingly complex world, while looking ahead five, ten, and even twenty years from now.

For that reason, the Army must attract, hire, train, develop, and employ the right personnel for the right jobs. Retaining and developing talented personnel for the future will help the Army continue to achieve mission success.

One way ahead is through the implementation of HRC's Assignment Interaction Module 2.0, or AIM 2, moving from an Industrial Age personnel system to a 21st Century approach to managing talent.

AIM 2 looks to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the Army's commissioned officer management process by providing a web based communication tool for the officer, the unit, and the talent manager.

Soldiers are able to post resumes and search available positions that meet their career goals. In turn, units can screen those resumes, facilitate interviews, and narrow their list of possible candidates. AIM 2 then allows talent managers to place individual soldiers in positions that will maximize their individual skills and talents.

Esper saw the process through the AIM 2 system first hand during a meeting with the Director of HRC's Officer Personnel Management Directorate, Brig. Gen. Douglas Stitt.

"We are a human organization. We are fallible. But we are absolutely where the rubber meets the road in regards to actively managing the Army's commissioned officer force," Stitt said. "How do we balance the science of meeting the Army's requirements while at the same time achieving the aspirations and goals of the officer? We do that through talent management."

In time, the Assignment Interactive Module will be bridged into the Integrated Personnel and Pay System - Army, or IPPS-A, allowing HRC talent managers to continuously assess soldiers and civilians across all three components; active, Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

Talent managers try to match the soldiers skill set to their preferred duty assignment while taking into account the needs of the unit. Factors for soldiers include the individual officer's military education, developmental considerations, unique family situations, career goals and other needs.

From the unit's viewpoint, senior leader priorities, manning guidance, and unit timelines will influence the final decision.

There will not always be enough officers available to meet every need for every unit. Talent managers use manning guidance and balance acceptable levels of risk to decide which units should receive priority to ensure overall Army readiness.

In the end, implementing a market-based interactive model like AIM 2, which better matches the skill set of an officer with the mission requirements of a unit, will allow the Army to meet the needs of the present as well as the challenges of the future.

"I am looking for new ideas." said Esper. "I've seen a lot of different personnel management models. On the one hand we're unique, on the other hand we're not, so I'm anxious to see how we get to that next level, whether that's revolutionary or evolutionary, how do we get there?"