FORT KNOX, KY -- Following the successful completion of two small scale pilot programs launched this summer to test the Assignment Satisfaction Key - Enlisted Module, Army Human Resources Command’s talent managers will employ the market for NCOs Army-wide beginning this week, Nov. 11, for the 21-01 enlisted manning cycle.
ASK-EM applies primarily to active component NCOs eligible to fill staff sergeant–master sergeant requirements and is a temporary bridge to the Integrated Pay and Personnel System – Army (IPPS-A) expected to go live in December 2021.
Modeled after the Army's Assignment Interactive Module for officers, ASK-EM supports enhanced interaction between NCOs and HRC’s talent managers allowing NCOs more input into where they would like to be assigned based on their knowledge, skills, behaviors and preferences. Through ASK-EM, eligible NCOs are able to see all available requirements that match their MOS and grade, and can preference them in an automated marketplace-type interface.
“The Assignment Satisfaction Key - Enlisted Module modernizes how we’re selecting enlisted Soldiers for assignments and enhancing their professional development,” said HRC’s senior enlisted Soldier, Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Lynice Thorpe-Noel.
The first pilot, which occurred during the month of June for the 20-08 manning cycle, was open to 700 NCOs in armor, military intelligence and unit supply specialist military occupational specialists who were being considered for reassignment from February–May 2021.
Col. Bryan Harris, Armor Enlisted Branch Chief, U.S. Army Human Resources Command said the pilot was a success.
“Seventy one percent of the NCOs participated in the process and 55 percent received one of their top five choices,” Harris said. “NCOs visited the website 5362 times, and the system performed as designed with no latency or functionality issues.”
A second pilot launched this summer, which wrapped up Sept. 29, was open to approximately
1000 NCOs from the same target audience. Results for those NCOs seeking reassignments for the 20-10 manning cycle will be available in October.
Harris said the pilots proved the ASK-EM system performed as it was designed and is ready to move forward. He stated there were no latency issues and the functionality of web-based interface worked as designed.
“The system presented the data, NCOs were able to input their preferences and that data was received. The system is effective,” Harris said.
The pilots did reveal more internal and external training is necessary, which Harris said they are in the process of conducting.
“We do training every Thursday across the directorate to educate them on how the system works and are starting to reach out to do virtual training with units to get them ready to use ASK-EM,” Harris said. “We have to get the whole active component of the Army ready for this initiative.”
ASK-EM will be tied to five enlisted manning cycles per year, compared to two cycles for officers. This provides the Army more flexibility to respond to emerging readiness requirements, and also acknowledges scope and scale.
For the first time, all Soldiers and NCOs will have a year/month available date established, which will increase transparency for Soldiers, NCOs, their families, and units by providing the date HRC considers them available to move and NCOs to be in the market.
"We want to operate a disciplined market by maximizing predictability and preference while optimizing readiness and professional development," said Sgt. Maj. Roger Rendon, Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate Sergeant Major, HRC.
The pilots proved that roughly 30 percent of NCOs are not participating. Harris said the directorate is working to find out why, but he strongly encourages all NCOs to participate.
“This will be the new way of selecting NCOs for their new assignments so they need to take advantage of the opportunity to influence their next assignment,” Harris said. “It doesn’t take NCOs that long to go into the system and submit their preferences. If they don’t speak up, their assignment manager will reassign them in accordance with priorities and the needs of the Army. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to influence your future.”
Over time, an average of 35,000 NCOs per year will eventually view and preference requirements in ASK-EM.