WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 19, 2010) -- Beginning Oct. 1, active-duty officers wanting to get self-nominated credit for serving in a joint-service environment will need to do it quickly -- the Joint Qualification System is changing its requirements.

Under the current JQS, a validation system that documents officers' joint service in their official records, officers can file for joint credit dating back to Sept. 11, 2001. However, after Sept. 30, active-duty officers will only be able to file retroactively within 12 months from the date they completed their joint-experience assignment.

Having joint-service credit is important for officers, because it portrays them as being well-rounded, and active-duty officers can't make the rank of general without it, Army Human Resource Command officials said.

"The cut-off date is a management mechanism to finally close out the old legacy retroactive joint-duty credit system ... which is a good thing," said David Quimby, deputy chief of plans and operations for the officer directorate at Army Human Resources Command.

Quimby said that for years, services were requesting waivers for officers to receive this retroactive credit, and now that grace period has expired.

Bottom line: if you want joint credit to count, don't wait.

"The global environment that the United States is in right now and the potential threats from any direction demands that we think, act, operate and train in a joint-service environment ... It's a must," said Quimby.

"Putting emphasis on joint experience is critical because when you fast-forward to the younger generation today, when they are our generals and senators, and they don't understand how to operate in a joint environment, we will fail in our mission to defend the United States," Quimby explained.

In 2007, Congress modified the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 to allow officers to gain joint experience through two paths. Previously joint credit was only given to those in an officially sanctioned joint-duty billet, considered the 'standard' path.

Now officers can also self-nominate themselves to receive joint credit if they've served in a non-appointed joint position, such as on a deployment, or a combined joint task force for humanitarian relief. This is called the 'experience' path.

Using a point system, one point is awarded for every 30 days served in a joint environment, and 'intensity factors' depending on what kind of assignment the service is fulfilled in, can add additional points.

The Army's goal is for all officers to have at least 36 points by the time they are eligible for brigadier general -- achievable in one year for an officer in a combat zone, where the 'intensity factor' is three.

The JQS packets are then sent to the Joint Manpower Information System, and quarterly panels are convened to determine the validity of the points, and if the assignment meets the definition of 'joint matters.'

"To have this credit, it really distinguishes you and sets you apart from your peers," said Lt. Col. Maria Quon, a public affairs officer with the Army's Human Resources Command in St. Louis.

The Army Reserve is implementing a similar deadline, but it is more relaxed because of the difficulty Reserve officers have accumulating JQS points, explained Maj. Mary Lepley, an Army Human Resources Command Reserve Career Manager.

Reserve officers will have until 2013 to file for JQS dating back to 1986. The retroactive date goes further back for the Reserve because the 2007 Congressional modification to the Defense Reorganization Act was only for active duty.

Reserve officers can also get joint credit for attending joint military education courses under certain circumstances.

After 2013 though, just like their active-duty counterparts, Reserve officers will have a maximum of one year after completion of their joint-related assignment to submit their self-nomination application into JQS.

The Army National Guard's new JQS deadline mirrors the Reserve's.

"It's human nature to procrastinate, until it's right at your doorstep," said JQS manager Joe Palermo, who warned of putting off filing.

Palermo however, made it clear that as long as officers file their paperwork by Sept. 30, 2010, they've met the deadline for applying for retroactive joint-service credit.

To self-nominate for JQS, go to www.hrc.army.mil/site/protect/active/opdistjp/index.htm (AKO login required).