(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Operationalizing holistic personnel talent management execution represents one of the most imperative operations a senior leader must execute as an organizational leader. Decentralized execution requires leaders who can operate independently and possess adaptive intelligence, competence across multiple operational domains, resilience, and progressive instincts. These traits lead to effective leadership during promulgated operations orders centered on accomplishing the commander’s intent. The deliberate execution of personnel talent management will determine the organization’s ability to quickly adjust to continuous environmental changes, ultimately influencing mission success or failure.

As a leader progresses in our organization, the distance from the ground truth increases simultaneously, specifically regarding identifying the preponderance of organizational root problems. Thus, taking a calculated approach to placing the right leaders across the breadth and scope of the organization inherently increases the probability of organizational success at echelon.

The U.S. Army Talent Management Strategy (ATMS) Force 2025 and beyond define talent as “the intersection of three dimensions; knowledge, skills, and behaviors (KSB) that creates an optimal level of individual performance, provided individuals are employed within their talent set.” Headquarters, Department of the Army Executive Order 145-19, Implementation of The Army Talent Alignment Process, adds the term “preference” to KSBs as it describes the implementation of the Army’s Talent Alignment Process (ATAP).

The Assignment Interactive Model 2.0 (AIM2) is designed to serve as the engine propelling the precise execution of ATAP to align and assign officers to the right organization based on their individual talents and personal preferences. The ATMS has four distinct objectives, which are to acquire, develop, employ, and retain the most valuable talent in the 21st century. Leaders at echelon must operationalize this process by understanding key touchpoints during the Human Resources Command (HRC) assignment process and identifying potential officers early in the cycle to allow effective prolonged communication. Holistically, all leaders must ensure the enterprise benefits from leader development investments to increase organizational talent availability, which will impact future operations regardless of geographical assignment. Your investment in a Soldier today will produce desired outcomes during their next duty assignment creating an absolute win for our Army. This long view and operational approach to talent identification and development will produce enormous dividends when fully embraced by all leaders at echelon.

While serving as the senior sustainment observer, coach, and/or trainer (OC/T) at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) located in Hohenfels, Germany, we generated a unique approach to address talent management across the sustainment warfighting function (WfF). For genuine clarity, talent management applies to every Soldier who serves in our organization regardless of commission source, enlistment, demographic, ethnicity, or any other category designation. Generally, the phrase “talent management” explicitly implies an exclusive focus on top performers (~10%) within our organization. I would emphatically argue that all Soldiers have unique talents, which appropriately places our organization in an extreme position of advantage in creating diversity of intellectual rigor to solve Army problems. The following steps represent the process that worked for the JMRC sustainment WfF. As the senior sustainment OC/T, my primary objective was to ensure all leaders understood the mission essential requirements (MER) process, which represents the most critical aspect of the personnel manning system. The legacy HRC MER process is now executed within AIM2 where units are in the lead. Units can add/delete requisitions during the MER process based on the current state of personnel readiness at their installation. A key piece of information to highlight are visible vacancies/projected losses. All vacancies will not automatically receive a backfill. Units must actively communicate with their HRC account manager to ensure requisitions are approved during the manning conference and manage expectations of future gains to the installation. The JMRC S-1 and 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment (opposing forces) S-1 ensured they coded all assigned personnel properly in the total officer personnel management information system, the system of record, specifically in the areas of projected losses. Once this action was complete, JMRC had a clearly defined personnel common operational picture of critical personnel gaps which required fills; this knowledge served as the foundation to creating a solid operational approach to identifying, interviewing, and acquiring the right talent for our mission at JMRC. JMRC OC/T talent originates from two locations which include the European Theater of operations to include Africa and external projections in the form of permanent change of station.

As a general business rule, division or equivalent headquarters are responsible primarily for acquiring field grade officers. Captains and below represents the primary focus for brigade or equivalent echelons. For transparency, the JMRC OC/T team’s division headquarters is the 7th Army Training Command, and the Adler Sustainment Team’s brigade headquarters is JMRC operations group led by the commander of operations group (COG). Within JMRC, the COG assigned WfFs to leaders with specified responsibilities to review officer resumes on AIM2, establish interviews, vote on whether the officer would be a good fit as an OC/T within the installation, and establish an order of merit list (OML) with a HRC follow-up touchpoint for process execution inclusion and situational awareness. Installation focus is key; aggregating the process at the installation level keeps a holistic focus on creating internal long-term operational approaches which benefit the installation for multiple years and not a specific unit. This aggregation of personnel data at the installation level drives the HRC assignments process. Cross talk within the installation is paramount to ensure AIM2 fratricide does not occur.

AIM2 serves as the distinct catalyst to drive the process because the system allows officers to effectively and professionally market themselves to unit leaders. JMRC WfF leads created touchpoints during the process, including the JMRC S-1, to ensure all personnel aspects were addressed holistically. The division/brigade S-1 has a much deeper understanding of the requisition process, most importantly, how many requisitions the installation is allocated during each manning cycle. This knowledge allowed leaders to narrow their sight picture to secure the best talent available for the installation. At the conclusion of the process the collaboration among WfF leads ensured all local knowledge was captured, and the group agreed with the targeted population. This action assured the final AIM2 OML placed the installation in the best position to achieve future success. Understanding the MER process combined with a deliberate AIM2 WfF voting approach allowed the installation the best opportunity to gain talent to compete and win during the execution of all combat training center operations according to Army Regulation 350-50, Combat Training Center Program.

The conclusion of the HRC assignments process produces a personnel slate that can be actioned with high accuracy. One question which consistently arises during this process involves career diversification. Career diversification has advantages and disadvantages based on timing and sequence. However, career diversification is the best approach to creating well-rounded leaders who can serve in various organizations long term. However, extreme caution is warranted when diversifying within units with a current mission demand; placing leaders without the proper experience in this type of environment places unnecessary risk on the individual and accomplishment of the mission.

During the assessment phase, leaders must develop a weighted benchmark on which positions require stronger KSBs than others. In other words, where can the organization assume risk from officers who are not as strong/knowledgeable when the position is available for fill? Additional touchpoints include reaching out to additional leaders who may have a deeper knowledge of how the officer performs in varying environments. All of these approaches will complement the process, and the officer’s final placement will be in both parties’ best interest to ensure proper development and the execution of the mission is not compromised.

Once the officer is an official member of your team combined with duty placement, senior leaders must find routine touchpoints to accurately assess the officer’s performance and future potential. As the commanded organization gets larger, this is increasingly more difficult to operationalize the execution. The goal is to bifurcate the assessment of the officer to accurately assess his/her potential. The bifurcation process includes the rater’s and senior rater’s point of view based on routine touchpoint assessments primarily in the form of counseling sessions. Quarterly, the rater and senior rater should have a deliberate discussion about overall performance and potential, which creates a holistic body of work assessment at the end of the rating period. Examples of touchpoints for senior raters are weekly physical fitness sessions with a maximum of one to three rated officers. Keeping this at a maximum of three allows the senior rater time to speak with all participants within a ninety-minute physical fitness session. Another example includes grouping officers into mission planning efforts with assigned roles and responsibilities. At this planning session’s conclusion, officers must brief their logic and WfF actions. These two activities also represent opportunities to include noncommissioned officers (NCO) into the process. Including NCOs early into the developmental process will only enhance the leadership structure of our organizational team over time. These events will reveal the leader’s ability to clearly articulate logic and their ability to maintain composure while addressing larger populations. Ultimately, the senior rater will be able to assess whether the officer is a true team player, understand self-awareness, and is willing/able to place their personal desires aside for the advancement of the organization.

Talent management is vital to the longevity of our Army organization. The ability to produce quality officers and NCOs who can close in and destroy the enemy is paramount to success. This process is absolutely deliberate in nature. The organizations who invest whole-heartily into the process make their organization better and the entire enterprise better over time. The ultimate goal of any organization is to create an environment that enables learning that has a symbiotic relationship with the execution of disciplined initiative without guidance. Senior leaders who execute talent management in a deliberate manner create an environment that they can command freely without the fear of subordinates making decisions counter to their intent or guidance. To get this right, a distinct balance of science and art is nested throughout this organizational learning process. Talent management is the engine that drives success, and it will single-handedly determine the performance of an organization in combat.


Lt. Col. Charles L. Montgomery is currently a student at the Air Force War College at Maxwell Air Force Base located in Montgomery, Alabama. Montgomery’s previous position was the senior sustainment trainer at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center located in Hohenfels, Germany. Montgomery commanded the 123rd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, located at Fort Bliss, Texas, from April 2018 to June 2020. He holds a master’s degree from the School of Advanced Military Studies in operational art and science.


This content is published online in conjunction with the Summer 2022 issue of Army Sustainment.


Army Sustainment homepage

The Current issue of Army Sustainment in pdf format

Current Army Sustainment Online Articles

Connect with Army Sustainment on LinkedIn

Connect with Army Sustainment on Facebook