HRC updates NCO talent management process with ASK-EM

By Matthew FontaineFebruary 5, 2021

FORT KNOX, Ky. – U.S. Army Human Resources Command completed an analysis of the first-ever Army wide market in the Assignment Satisfactions Key – Enlisted Module in February. Four of five noncommissioned officers received one of their top five choices for assignments that will start between July and October 2021.

The data shows that 74% of the eligible staff sergeants through first sergeants submitted five or more assignment preferences in ASK-EM to find their next assignment.

“With ASK-EM, not only were Soldiers able to see all available assignments and preference them, but their Families were able to be involved as well,” said Sgt. Maj. Roger Rendon, the Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate Sergeant Major at HRC. “They had time to look at them, weigh those installations against each other, research them, and then rank order them - not just a few assignments, but many assignments at once.”

This innovative talent management tool for active component enlisted troops is designed to improve Army readiness and empower Soldiers to make better informed decisions for themselves and their Families.

ASK-EM, which first ran as a limited pilot in June, reduces the number of annual enlisted movement cycles in a year from five to four, simplifying the process for career managers and providing more stability to Soldiers and Families. It also serves as a bridge from the legacy assignment selection processing to the new IPPS-A Marketplace, which is scheduled to debut in the active Army in December.

One of the key components of the new ASK-EM process is a slating optimization algorithm used to inform assignment matches based on both the needs of the Army and Soldier preferences. Using an algorithm reduces bias and improves equitable distribution of potential assignments.

"While an aid to the assignment process, what we're really trying to get after is the adage 'Mission first, people always,'” said Maj. Matt Ferguson, the Operations Research Officer who developed and implemented this new assignment slating tool for HRC. “By removing even the perception of bias and providing transparency in assignment decisions, this tool can optimize readiness and preference while supporting the Army People Strategy.”

ASK-EM was modeled after the Active Duty Officer Assignment Interactive Module Version 2 (AIM.2), which manages officer moves, and shares several of the same attributes. In addition to using an algorithm like AIM.2, ASK-EM also employs the Year/Month Available to Move, or YMAV, to identify potential movers which increases stability and predictability for NCOs and their families.

“We also want Families to know that their Soldiers can request to stabilize by requesting to change their YMAV date. This is a very valuable predictability tool for units and their leadership, as well as a contract that the Army has with the individual Soldier and their Families,” Rendon said. “Knowing how long you will be in a current installation helps the Soldier and the Family plan life events.”

For information about ASK-EM, visit the HRC website at