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Editorial: A wise dialogue

May. 9, 2013 - 01:10PM   |  
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The Army is taking some of the mystery out of new assignments for officers and enlisted men.

In the past, a noncommissioned officer would get orders out of the blue, directing him to his next duty station. But now, NCOs will be contacted to discuss potential assignments.

It has been common practice for years “to dialogue with officers before making an assignment,” said Col. Bob Bennett, Human Resource Command’s director of enlisted personnel management. He brought the concept to the assignments for NCOs.

The idea is to make sure the NCO fits the assignment. So, before sending an NCO to South Korea, someone needs to talk to the soldier to determine whether that is the right thing to do. Sergeants first class and master sergeants will be the first to benefit. If the program works, it will be expanded to include staff sergeants and sergeants.

A similar change is coming to the selection of battalion and brigade commanders. In the past, everyone eligible was considered. Some people asked to be taken off the list. Under the new program, lieutenant colonels and colonels interested in a command slot will ask to be considered. If an officer doesn’t ask, he won’t be looked at.

Both programs make a lot of sense. At the risk of making the Army look like the democracy it is not, getting input from soldiers seems a good way to do business. It avoids sending NCOs to places they can’t go — due to family or other issues.

It ensures battalions and brigades are run by people who want the all-consuming, 24/7 job.

These are smart changes to make the Army a more efficient, more soldier-friendly place.

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