WASHINGTON – Three changes to the Army's retention program are scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, as the Army looks to simplify aspects of the reenlistment process and give Soldiers more flexibility before their expiration term of service date.
A modification to the Career Status Program, formerly known as the Indefinite Reenlistment Program, an adjustment to the Reenlistment Opportunity Window, or ROW, and to one of the extensions will all take effect starting fiscal year 2022, said Sgt. Maj. Tobey J. Whitney, the Army's senior career counselor.
"These changes are being made with the intent of increasing predictability for Soldiers and their families while also reducing turbulence within Army organizations," Whitney said.
Career Status Program
Soldiers ranked E-6 and above and with 10 years or more of active service will now be eligible for the Career Status Program, reducing the time in service threshold from 12 years, Whitney said.
"We found through collected data that staff sergeant and above with more than 10 years of service were required to reenlist at least twice to make it to retirement," Whitney said. "That doesn't seem like a logical solution to keep Soldiers in the Army."
The update to the CSP will not change any of the Army's voluntary separation policies, which allow Soldiers to request a discharge or enter into the Career Intermission Program, he added.
Under CIP, Soldiers can take a break in service while receiving their benefits and a portion of their pay for up to three years, Army G-1 officials said earlier this year.
"We want to ensure that [qualified] Soldiers understand their eligibility for the Career Status Program," Whitney said. "If Soldiers can just reenlist for an indefinite term of service, they can go and continue with their careers."
The change to the ROW policy will give Soldiers 12 months before their ETS to review their reenlistment options and make a final decision, Whitney said.
"The ROW is currently set at 15 months, but we are changing it to 12 for two main reasons,” he said. “First, it is simple for Soldiers, leaders and families to understand when they are 365 days from their ETS.
Second, “the analytics over the past several years [show] that the vast majority of Soldiers wait until they are between eight to 11 months before they reenlist.”
The adjustment to the ROW extension would increase the minimum term length from 12 to 18 months, Whitney said.
The transition process can create a lot of turbulence in a Soldier's life, he said, as well as impact their organization as they navigate the Soldier for Life program and finish their out-processing tasks.
As the Army continues to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the ROW extension change would remain a short-term retention option for Soldiers. Further, changes to the program will not impact those who need to reenlist for promotion, reassignment, selection, or other requirements.
"We found that it is pretty common for Soldiers to extend," Whitney said. "We are adding six additional months to provide a little more predictability for Army units, the Soldier, and their family.”
Many other short-term extension options remain available for Soldiers who need additional time and meet the requisite qualifications, he added.