Re-enlisting in downsizing Army now tougher

Soldiers are no longer eligible for automatic re-enlistments, according to the Army Retention initiative that went into effect on March 1.

  Specifically, Army Directive 2012-03 spells out the criteria for determining whether a particular Soldier will be qualified for re-enlistment and mandates initiation of bars to re-enlistment for various types of misconduct. 

The directive, released from Secretary of the Army John McHugh in February, was issued to ensure that only the best qualified Soldiers with the greatest potential for future service will be allowed to continue serving within the Army’s ranks.
The directive is broken into three parts: re-enlistment qualifications, bars to re-enlistment and re-enlistment objectives. 

The section on re-enlistment qualifications expands upon the Army Retention Program and applies to all non-commissioned officers in the rank of staff sergeant and above. 

These NCOs will now be considered unqualified for re-enlistment if their Official Military Personnel File contains any of the following: a Relief-for-Cause Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report; a “No” listed in Part IV (Army Values/Attributes/Skills/Actions) of any NCOER; a senior rater rating of 4 (fair) or 5 (poor) in Part V-Overall Performance and Potential of any NCOER; or a Service School Academic Evaluation Report indicating a failure in any NCO education system course. For re-enlistment purposes, it is irrelevant when one of the four was placed in the NCO’s OMPF. Simply having one of these in their OMPF will make the NCO unqualified to re-enlist. The only exception to these criteria would be a waiver from the commander of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command. This change will not impact NCOs currently serving on an indefinite re-enlistment contract. 

The directive also expands situations in which commanders are required to initiate bars to re-enlistment upon their Soldiers. 

Bars to re-enlistment are designed for Soldiers whose immediate separation under administrative procedures is not warranted, but whose re-entry into or service beyond their current contract with the active Army is not in the best interest of the military service. 

Previously, commanders were required to initiate a bar to re-enlistment on any Soldier who failed to make satisfactory progress in the Army Weight Control Program or who failed two consecutive Army Physical Fitness Tests. 

The new directive adds five additional reasons for which commanders will be required to initiate a bar to re-enlistment. These include barring Soldiers who, starting March 1, 2012, lose their primary military occupational specialty qualification due to the fault of the Soldier, as well as Soldiers who are denied Command List Integration for promotion by the unit commander. 

In addition, a bar to re-enlistment will be placed on any Soldier who, during their current enlistment/re-enlistment period: 1) has an incident involving the use of illegal drugs or alcohol which results in the Soldier receiving an officially filed letter of reprimand, a finding of guilty under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a civilian criminal conviction, or a conviction by court martial; 2) has two or more separate proceedings under Article 15 of the UCMJ, resulting in a finding of guilty by a field grade commander; or 3) is absent without leave for more than 96 hours. This change will have no effect upon Soldiers currently serving on an indefinite re-enlistment contract.  

For Soldiers in Europe, the requirement for a bar to re-enlistment for alcohol misconduct will likely have the greatest effect. A General Officer Reprimand is required to be issued to any Soldier caught drinking and driving with a blood alcohol content of .05 percent or higher. If this letter of reprimand is placed in the Soldier’s OMPF, the commander will be required to place a bar to re-enlistment upon the Soldier.  In addition, Soldiers who become disorderly or involved in a fight at a fest or a local bar and are found guilty under Article 15 of the UCMJ will also be required to have a bar to re-enlistment placed upon them. Either of these could have the effect of ending the Soldier’s military career. 

Bars to re-enlistments placed under the new directive will remain in effect and be treated the same as all other bars to re-enlistment issued under the Army Retention Program. Among others, these requirements direct the initiation of separation of Soldiers upon completion of the second three-month review if the bar is not removed.

Finally, the directive discussed general re-enlistment objectives to assist commanders in better determining which Soldiers will be allowed to re-enlist and which Soldiers will not. 

Commanders have been instructed that they should use the “whole Soldier” concept. This means  the consideration of Soldier attributes, competencies, leadership potential, adherence to standards, duty performance and evaluations that demonstrate the ability of a particular Soldier to serve in any MOS prior to making any determination that a Soldier will be allowed to re-enlist. Under this approach, some fully qualified Soldiers may be denied re-enlistment.

Questions regarding this article can be presented to the Stuttgart legal assistance office at 421-4152 or commercial 0711-729-4152.