CAP25 closes with largest assessment of candidates to date

By Daniela VestalNovember 20, 2023

CAP25 closes with largest assessment of candidates to date
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sgt. 1st Class Vang Yang, grades a candidate during the Army Combat Fitness Test portion of the Command Assessment Program, Sept. 29, 2023 at Fort Knox, KY. (Photo Credit: Daniela Vestal) VIEW ORIGINAL
CAP25 closes with largest assessment of candidates to date
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Bob O’Brien, director, Command Assessment Program, briefs Soldiers tasked to support CAP at Palma Hall on Fort Knox, Kentucky, Sept. 29, 2023. (Photo Credit: Daniela Vestal) VIEW ORIGINAL

The U.S. Army Command Assessment Program finished out its fourth year of assessing Soldiers and civilians for placement into key command and staff positions through the U.S. Army with its largest group of candidates to date.

The program assessed nearly 2,000 candidates from Sept. 29 to Nov. 12 on Fort Knox, KY through the Colonels Commander Assessment Program, Battalion Command Assessment Program, or Sergeants Major Assessment Program. The programs included Army Competitive Category Soldiers as well as personnel participating in the Acquisition Leader Assessment Program, Medical Command Assessment Program, and the Chaplains Assessment Program.

Several key changes were incorporated into the program this year with one of the most notable being the decision to notify candidates found Not Yet Certified for Command status after their Army Comprehensive Talent Interview and out brief with one of the program’s development psychologists.

Those notifications were done directly by members of the CAP command team.

“They are tough conversations a lot of times but what it helps us do is cement the feedback the operational psychologist had given them earlier in the day with some takeaways and that begins the development journey, focused on wherever the candidate wants to go,” said Col. Bob O’Brien, director, CAP.

It is important to note being found Not Yet Certified For Command it is not the end of the road for CAP candidates. The assessment program has always been a redemptive one and this year saw more opportunities for candidates found not yet certified.

“Until this year, an officer was only allowed to compete for three years,” O’Brien said. “We’ve opened up that aperture so any lieutenant colonel can compete at BCAP and any colonel compete at CCAP no matter how far they are removed from their first eligibility.”

This year saw another significant change in the creation of a Job Performance Panel following the completion of CAP that replaced the Centralized Selection List board that previously took place before that year’s cycle began.

The JPP considered the files of ACC officers found Certified for Command as it produced the year’s Order of Merit List. Included in those files, was a feedback card informing panel members on a candidate’s performance at CAP.

A key benefit to participation in CAP is the feedback loop given to the year’s candidates. Each year the feedback loop is refined based on feedback from candidates. This year was no different as candidates were offered detailed feedback on their assessments and performance at CAP.

This investment is the CAP feedback loop has attracted some previous candidates to return to the program, even though they had previously been found Certified for Command.

“I attended CAP last year and found out I was certified, so CAP gave me two options,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ronis Gutierrez, command sergeant major, Army Support Activity – Black Sea. “Come back and revalidate my height and weight and do the ACFT or do the entire assessment again. So I opted to do the assessment again they year and the reason why is that I really enjoyed the feedback last year and I was looking forward to having the same feedback again.”

Gutierrez said participating in SMAP was more than just doing an assessment and gave him the opportunity to receive professional feedback that allowed him to see things from a different angle and perspective.

“My recommendation is to be open minded about the program,” Gutierrez said. “The program is not only going to allow you to network and get to know people that you have not seen before, but it is also going to allow you the opportunity to learn about yourself to become a better leader, a better person and go back to your organization and continue to impact those that you worked with.