HUGE: Army Transition Teams now Prime for Promotion

General Casey:

Soldiers that serve on our Transition Teams (TTs) and our Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are developing exactly the type of knowledge, skills and abilities that are vital for our Army to be effective in an era of persistent conflict. These are tough, demanding positions and the members of these teams are required to influence indigenous or surrogate forces as they execute missions that are of vital interest to this Nation. The tasks associated with Transition Teams, from direct combat to stability operations, will be a major part of full spectrum engagement in theaters of interest now and for the foreseeable future. I want to ensure that the officers that lead these teams are recognized and given the credit they deserve.

I am directing that the Major’s positions on these teams be immediately designated and codified in DA PAM 600-3, for all branches, as Key and Developmental (KD). Any officer holding one of these positions will be considered “KD” for his or her branch as a Major. Additionally, these officers will be afforded the opportunity, should they desire, to hold an additional 12/24 months of a branch specific KD position (e.g. XO, S-3, etc). Our promotion board guidance already stresses the importance of these positions and this additional information will be added to all upcoming board instructions. Additionally, because the success of these teams requires our best leaders, I have directed HRC to award Centralized Selection List (CSL) Credit for LTCs serving specifically in the TT Commander positions that have direct leadership responsibility for a training/transition team.

The implications of this decision -making an embedded trainer billet equal to an S3 or XO- will be sweeping across the Army. Training host nation forces has never been a central tenet of Army doctrine –it has been traditionally reserved for SF. Recognizing that advising host nation forces is now a central mission of the Army is another step in re-aligning the force to fight the war we are actually embroiled in. This is a crucial step to carrying out the COIN doctrine, and (more importantly ingraining it into the Army bureaucracy).

This lets the Army captain and major that take training and advisory billets with host nation forces compete for promotion against the officers that get company command, or XO and S3 billets in line units. In the long term, this will mean that future LTCs and COLs with this invaluable host nation training experience will be in command of battalions and brigades. This is good news for the Army, and for America.

Comments

  1. SSG Jeff (USAR) says:

    Why do I think that when they look back at this time, they'll end up calling it "Petraeus' Army"?

    And that's not a bad thing.

  2. There are a whole bunch of majors out there that have already done their "KD time" as S-3s and XO's in places like Korea… will the Army still give them a MiTT team, thus denying another guy the coveted position? And if they don't? What happens to the poor slob with the "KD time" who has no combat experience under his belt? What then? Will the Army square him or her away with a deployment?

    Will the guy who gets "KD'd" on a MiTT team get more credit at the promotion boards than the guy who got "KD'd" in a unit that didn't deploy? And will the slob who got "KD'd" in a non-deployed unit be denied an opportunity to serve in combat, and thus be non-competitive for future promotions?

    The Army's official position is that combat time doesn't matter in the eyes of the promotion boards–only the Key Developmental positions that an officer has served in. Everyone in the universe with a brain finds that difficult to believe. An officer without any combat experience will certainly be discriminated against at a promotion board. But what if this is not the fault of the officer in question? What if the officer was sent to a unit that never deployed during his or her tenure there? What then?

    Before it was a no-brainer; send that officer on a MiTT team after their "KD" job and it will level the playing field. But now MiTT teams are a precious commodity; something that will be a stepping stone toward promotion. Will alibis be given to those who by no fault of their own got "KD'd" serving in a relatively peaceful locale?

    This whole thing raises some interesting questions indeed.

    Marcus

  3. Christopher Schreine says:

    Having recently returned from a Military Transition Team (MiTT) assignment in Iraq, I appreciate the Army putting such an emphasis on the importance of the MiTT mission. If the MiTT assignment is going to be considered KD time, I don’t think it should be the only KD time a MAJ has. The MiTT assignment does not provide the type of experiences necessary to a MAJ to prepare him to be a BN commander. In my case as an intelligence officer, the MiTT assignment has not prepared me in the way being an XO or S3 would to be a Battalion Commander or being a Brigade S2 would prepare me to be a Division G2. The Army needs to make sure individuals who serve on MiTTs not only remain eligible for further KD jobs but to further encourage quality officers to volunteer for the assignment give them preferential consideration for future KD assignment regardless of when that happens. Currently officers who volunteer for a MiTT assignment are given their follow on assignment of choice. This translates to one of your top three choices for follow on assignments. My follow on assignment was schooling, but went no further then that. This set up does not in my opinion encourage individuals to volunteer for MiTTs. For some MiTT members I met during my time at Fort Riley for train up and in Iraq during my tour, the MiTT assignment was seen as a last resort to try and get some KD time or to get a deployment in for consideration at a board. By providing MiTT members with the incentive of school and special consideration for follow on KD time, the Army will pull some of the best qualified individuals to serve on MiTTs.

    Second, while the guidance to promotion boards might be to consider the MiTT assignment equal to Company Command, Battalion XO or Battalion S3, I don’t think the members who sit on the board would choose the officer who served on a MiTT over a Company Command, XO, or S3 position if all other things were equal. Combine this with the fact MAJs serving on MiTTs are senior rated by the Brigade commander responsible for the battlespace the MiTT is operating in. For me this meant that I was competing against all the MAJs who were serving as Battalion XOs, S3s and any other MAJ senior rated by the Brigade Commander. Due to my job I saw my senior rater a couple of times during my tour and was not part of the Brigade before he deployed or when he re-deployed back to the states. I think this puts many of the MiTT members at a significant disadvantage especially the ones who do not interact often with the Brigade sometimes due to the fact that MiTTs are so far removed geographically from the Coalition Force element they are attached to. Some Battalion and Brigade Commanders do take care of the MiTTs they are responsible for, but there are instances where MiTT members become a profile builder for the senior rater. If the officer does become the victim of being a profile builder, having the MiTT assignment as his only KD time will only hurt him for promotion.

    The Army needs to emphasize the importance of the MiTT mission and continue to assign quality officers to the mission. But the Army must place officers in other KD assignments to ensure they receive the experiences necessary to set them up for future success.

    My opinions do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense or the U.S. Government

    MAJ Christopher L. Schreiner

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