The Army is at war. It is a war for our greatest strength and most important weapon system, and the outcome will determine our ability to win all future wars. It is a war for talent.
The Chief of Staff of the Army highlighted this war’s importance by announcing that “People” are our #1 priority. We are now transforming from an industrial age personnel management process to an information age talent management approach, where the goal is to expand the skills and experiences of our people and fully capitalize on their remarkable capabilities. Studies show that by empowering a workforce and fostering a culture of diversity – including diversity of thought, experience, race, ethnicity and gender – organizations can perform exponentially better. As the Army’s Senior Sustainer, I can say that we continue to progress within the sustainment community, nested under the Army.
A fundamental aspect of this change is the new Army Talent Alignment Process (ATAP). This new method is a collaborative, transparent, data-driven online market-style approach where officers and warrant officers detail their Knowledge, Skills, Behaviors and Preferences (KSB-Ps), and commanders match KSB-Ps to positions within their organizations.
This approach helps assign the right person to the right unit where their unique KSB-Ps can best be utilized. However, we will need to expand the scope of our professional horizons and be driven by a purpose greater than ourselves, with organizations and leaders letting some of their officers “go to grow” for the betterment of the individual and the Army.
Within the Logistics Corps, the Logistics Board of Directors (LG-BOD) is a diverse group of six general officers who oversee a year-long process that utilizes ATAP, along with other data, feedback, and discussions with leaders across the Army, to more effectively assign colonels transparently. We are also examining ways to integrate and expand the LG-BOD’s role in identifying and developing talent through the entire pipeline of officers from majors to colonels, synchronized with the U.S. Army Human Resources Command and the Colonels Officer Management Office. More than ever, this will require leaders in the field to be involved in mentoring, coaching and training to identify that talent.
Identifying the next generation of brigade and battalion commanders is a critical decision. In conjunction with ATAP, the Army has begun five-day, in-person Colonel and Battalion Command Assessment Programs (CCAP/BCAP) with written, verbal, and physical assessments, including a double-blind board to reduce unconscious bias. When compared to a legacy system’s selection list, officers chosen by CCAP/BCAP demonstrated they are more physically fit, more cognitively capable, and communicate more effectively.
Talent management for the backbone of our Army – noncommissioned officers (NCOs) – is also changing. The enlisted version of command assessments, the Sergeants Major Assessment Program, was held late last year. The new Assignment Satisfaction Key-Enlisted Module gives ranked assignment choices to staff sergeants through master sergeants. These programs enhance interaction between NCOs and talent managers while allowing Soldiers more input into their assignments.
As the commander of a workforce that is mostly civilian, I know we cannot achieve our mission without dedicated and talented Department of the Army Civilians. The Army People Strategy (APS) has identified critical priorities from transforming workforce planning and management to building world-class supervisors. This must be accomplished through opportunities for training and development with individual development plans tailored to requirements. Furthermore, hiring and selection panels must be fair, transparent, and unbiased to ensure the viability and sustainability of the APS.
We are supporting these changes by leveraging new technologies and refining advanced analytics. Information gathered by these systems and processes will help us continually assess and adjust to develop and manage talent appropriately. Meanwhile, the Integrated Personnel and Pay System ‐ Army will soon begin to integrate many of these changes into its online platform and will better enable talent management across the Total Force.
Our CSA, Gen. James McConville, has repeatedly said, “We’re in a war for talent.” With these changes and your dedication, we have the opportunity to better develop the next generation of talented leaders. Because in the end, it is talent that will win this war. And winning matters.
Gen. Ed Daly serves as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. He served three years as the deputy commanding general of AMC in his previous assignment. He managed the day-to-day operations of the Army’s logistics enterprise, and also served as the senior commander of Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. He served as the commanding general of Army Sustainment Command at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, and as AMC's deputy chief of staff, overseeing the roles and functions of the headquarters staff.
This article was published in the January-March 2021 issue of Army Sustainment.