An officer is born
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet James Sturges (right) takes the Oaths of Office into the Army during the Warrior Forge graduation ceremony on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, July 17. Sturges was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army during the ceremony. An ROTC cadet from University of Colorado, Boulder, Sturges finished second in his regiment of approximately 450 cadets to earn his status as honor graduate. He plans to attend Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course and Ranger School later this year. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Austan Owen) VIEW ORIGINAL

For the first time in history, U.S. Army branches have the opportunity to fully look at a Cadet’s knowledge, skills, and behaviors to determine whether they have the desired talents to lead and succeed within their specific branch.

Through the Talent Based Branching system, U.S. Army Cadet Command and the roughly 6,000 Army ROTC Cadets who commission each year can assess where their talents and aspirations best match one of the 17 branches. Gone are the days of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

“We need the right people with the right abilities matched with the branch that will utilize those talents to their fullest extent,” said Maj. Gen. Johnny K. Davis, Commanding General U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox. “In this competitive environment, Cadet Command wants to ensure a match that is beneficial to both the Cadet and the Army.”

The new system’s goal, is to encourage more interaction and communication between Cadets and branches.

“The Talent Based Branching process is designed to allow Cadets to better understand their strengths and how those align with the branches,” said Davis. “Additionally, the process gives the branches an opportunity to preference Cadets through interviews.”

Talent Based Branching begins with the Cadet and empowers them to interact with and understand the different branches by researching the talents needed to succeed in the branches—for example, different skills are needed in Cyber than in Transportation.

Col. Bryan G. Kirk, a Professor of Military Science (PMS) and Chair of the Military Science Department at the University of North Georgia, had the opportunity to experience Talent Based Branching for the first time this year.

“It provides the opportunity for in-depth exploration of the traits necessary to succeed in a branch at their convenience and pace,” he said. “It rewards those who take the time to understand the process by increasing the likelihood of a top match—desired and received branch.”

Using the Virtual Branching website (VBO 2.0) as an educational tool, Cadets can explore the branch’s desired talent priorities. They also complete the Talent Assessment Battery (TAB) and build their personal talent file—resume, transcripts, experience.

The TAB provides Cadets with feedback on their emotional and intellectual strengths, and how they relate to each branch in comparison to their peers.

Once Cadets have pinpointed branches they’re interested in, they can move on with the next step—the interview. The Army’s new HireVue platform allows Cadets to schedule interviews with their desired branches. Through a set of questions—and sometimes even homework—the branch and Cadet will determine if they are a good fit.

Lt. Col. Wesley M. Pirkle, a PMS and Executive Officer at the University of North Georgia, said Cadets shouldn’t be afraid to discuss their talents with the branches in order to get honest feedback.

“We encourage the Cadets to think about what they want and have those discussions with the branches,” Pirkle said. “They get a lot of information out of those discussions and interviews with the branches.”

When interviews are complete, the branches review Cadets’ talent files and assign a rating of “Most Preferred,” “Preferred,” or “Least Preferred.” These ratings are given back to the Cadets to help make their final branching decisions.

From an instructor’s perspective, the system helps educate Cadre on the different branches and their requirements. For Kirk, it also reduces the realistic bias of “ducks pick ducks.” An Infantry Officer who has only known Infantry, probably doesn’t have the experience or exposure to provide extensive information to a Cadet interested in Chemical Corps.

“The process rewards diligence and interaction with a much clearer understanding of what the branches are looking for so that Cadre can provide input to the Cadets based on their personal observation as measured against the TBB feedback,” Kirk said.

Cadet Kegan McCorkle, a senior at University of Central Florida, recently completed his branch interviews and felt it was a positive experience.

“It seemed like more of a traditional hiring process with an attempt to make sure that you fit overall into that particular branch,” McCorkle said.

“As talent becomes harder to recruit, this feels like a natural, easy win to show the Army is looking out for you as much as you are going to look out for them.”

The Army is committed to put Cadets in positions where they will succeed. Talent Based Branching gives Cadets the power of information to help spotlight their strengths and take control of their careers.

“Working together, our Cadets, Cadre, and branches can make informed decisions that influence careers for the positive,” said Davis. “I think we are putting Cadets in a place where they can take some control over their career paths and help move our Army into the future.”

Cadets that are Army Nurse, Guaranteed Reserve Forces Duty (GRFD), and those that selected Reserve Forced Duty (RFD) in the Army National Guard (ARNG) or U.S. Army Reserves (USAR) do not participate in the majority of the Talent Based Branching process.

Personal talent files and indications for Branch for Active Duty (BRADSO) or branch detail are all taken into consideration when Cadets receive a branch.

About Army ROTC

Army ROTC is one of the best leadership courses in the country and is part of your college curriculum. Through classes and field training, Army ROTC provides you with the tools to become an Army Officer without interfering with your other classes. ROTC also provides you with discipline and money for tuition while enhancing your college experience.

Army ROTC offers pathways to becoming an Army Officer for high school students, current active duty Soldiers, and for current National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers through the Simultaneous Membership Program.

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