Joint Self-Nomination System Achieves Success, General Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2009 A Web-based self-nomination system officers can use to have their war zone or other experiences evaluated for joint-service qualification has proven to be highly successful, a senior U.S. military officer said here today.
"We are truly a joint warfighting force now, and this [self-nomination system] broadens the pool for joint-officer qualification," Army Brig. Gen. Gary S. Patton, director of manpower and personnel for the Joint Chiefs of Staff office, said during a Feb. 9 interview with American Forces Press Service.
Since October 2007, active duty and reserve component officers have been able to have their war zone and other experiences evaluated for joint-service credit through a JCS-sponsored Web site, Patton said. The system has helped to provide the military with 40 new joint-service-qualified officers over the past year, he noted.
"That's 40 more joint-qualified officers we have produced this year that we wouldn't have produced in any previous year by virtue of the experience they have had," Patton said.
The self-nomination system, he added, provides junior officers the opportunity to have their experiences rated for joint-service credit.
Before implementation of the self-nomination system, Patton said, joint-service credit and qualification was achieved only by serving in authorized billets and completing the necessary military education. Most U.S. units serving in Iraq or Afghanistan today are provisional organizations, he said, that wouldn’t be reflected as joint assignments for people who were not in joint positions at their home stations. Reserve-component members also couldn't qualify for joint officer duty, he added.
That's all changed, Patton said.
"We don't want to exclude anybody that feels that they're out there and are performing joint duty," the general said, noting that National Guard members and reservists also can apply to become joint-service officers.
Joint-service experiences must achieve unified action, Patton said, with respect to national military strategy, national security, planning, contingency planning, command-and-control operations under a combatant commander, and combined operations with the military of another nation.
Experience can be accumulated in separate joint-service categories, he said, or in conjunction with others.
A flag-officer-staffed review panel, he said, evaluates submitted experiences according to whether or not they truly reflect work with other U.S. military services, agencies or coalition members.
Submitted experiences are graded on a point scale, Patton said, with the accumulation of 36 points being the threshold for full joint-service experience qualification under the self-nomination system. However, he added, joint-service officer aspirants still must complete the necessary education to be fully qualified.
A mission's intensity or challenging nature also is evaluated by panel members, Patton said. For example, he said, war zone work in instructing Iraqi or Afghan soldiers would carry greater weight than some other overseas duties.
Humanitarian and disaster-relief missions also may qualify for joint-service experience, Patton said. Eligible experiences submitted for evaluation are to have taken place after Sept. 11, 2001.
The panel may validate an experience, disapprove it, or take no action at all, Patton said.
"This is a process that all of our officers can take advantage of, by virtue of self-nominating themselves," Patton said. "Your service will let you know if you just don't meet the criteria."
The self-nomination process applies only to officers in the grades of O-6 and below. General and flag officers are handled separately through their respective services’ general- and flag-officer matters offices.
Officers usually begin their joint-service careers as majors, Patton said. Some joint-service officers, he said, may later serve at the general- or flag-officer level. Since Oct. 1, officers have been required to be fully joint qualified to be appointed to the grade of O-7.
Whether officers obtain joint-service experience by serving in traditional joint-service billets or through the self-nomination process, they still must successfully complete the necessary education for full qualification, Air Force Col. Darlene M. Roquemore, chief of the Joint Officer Management Branch at the Pentagon, explained in a recent interview.
Such courses of instruction, Roquemore said, are offered at the Joint Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Va., and at senior-level service schools and other senior-military educational institutions, such as the National War College at Fort McNair here.
"No matter which way you look at it -- by virtue of traditional path [or] experience path - the end result is a joint-qualified officer," Patton said.
Joint-service experience just "makes officers better," Patton said, regardless of their service branch.
"For now and in the future, we're always going to fight jointly, in many cases with coalition forces," Patton said.