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Switching to shorthanded MOS may rescue career

Dec. 7, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Army diver is one of the shortage specialties that are high on the Army's priority list for reclass. The 12D (diver) MOS has strict entry requirements.
Army diver is one of the shortage specialties that are high on the Army's priority list for reclass. The 12D (diver) MOS has strict entry requirements. ()
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THE HOT JOBSThe Army says these jobs are short on soldiers and high on the priority list for reclassification:
Apply to get in12D diver
12P prime power production specialist
18B Special Forces weapons sergeant
18C engineer
18D medical sergeant
18E communications sergeant
18F assistant operations and intelligence sergeant
31D criminal investigation special agent
35L counterintelligence agent
35P cryptologic linguist
35Q translator/interpreter
37F psychological operations specialist
38B civil affairs specialist
79R recruiter
For junior enlisted, no application needed15R Apache helicopter repairer
29E electronic warfare specialist
For promotable sergeants and staff sergeants25E electromagnetic spectrum manager

With the Army getting smaller, and retention policies tightening, personnel officials say soldiers in overstrength specialties have a better shot at surviving the drawdown if they switch to jobs that have good prospects for the future.

With the Army getting smaller, and retention policies tightening, personnel officials say soldiers in overstrength specialties have a better shot at surviving the drawdown if they switch to jobs that have good prospects for the future.

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FORT KNOX, KY. — With the Army getting smaller, and retention policies tightening, personnel officials say soldiers in overstrength specialties have a better shot at surviving the drawdown if they switch to jobs that have good prospects for the future.

Reclassification opportunities are dwindling, but enterprising soldiers can still improve their career prospects by moving to shortage fields, said Jim Bragg, chief of enlisted retention and reclassification at Human Resources Command.

Soldiers who reclassify from overstrength specialties can be promoted more quickly — in some cases, automatically.

Bragg said if a soldier is interested in reclassification, he or she should start with their unit career counselor, who will know about qualifications and standards for the various military occupational specialties, as well as the rules for reclassification.

Career counselors also have access to an automated retention management system called RETAIN that allows reclassification processing to be conducted at a soldier’s home station. The system is constantly updated so counselors can provide the latest information on reclassification opportunities, to include training seats, for the specialties that are open to inbound migration.

Several publications also can be used to research a possible job change, the most important being the reclassification “in/out” calls that are published periodically by HRC.

The latest version of the calls was issued Oct. 1. A new version is tentatively slated for release by the end of this year, or in early 2014, according to Bragg.

The calls indicate, by rank, if a specialty is overstrength, balanced or shorthanded, and if it is open or closed to reclassification.

Most reclassification candidates in the current version of the in/out calls are “by application” specialties. These are MOSs that have rigorous eligibility criteria, and that require applicants to be cleared by the specialty’s proponent organization, such as a service school or branch center.

Shortage specialties that are high on the Army’s priority list for reclassification but have strict entry requirements include 12D (diver), 12P (prime power production specialist), and the Special Forces MOS of 18B (weapons sergeant), 18C (engineer), 18D (medical sergeant), 18E (communications sergeant) and 18F (assistant operations and intelligence sergeant).

Also on the hot list are 31D (criminal investigation special agent), 35L (counterintelligence agent), 35P (cryptologic linguist), 35Q (translator/interpreter), 37F (psychological operations specialist), 38B (civil affairs specialist) and 79R (recruiter).

Specialties that are not “by application” MOSs but are open for reclassification to Skill Level 1, or junior enlisted, soldiers are 15R (Apache helicopter repairer) and 29E (electronic warfare specialist).

Bragg noted that 29E is included in the Special MOS Alignment Promotion Program.

Under SMAPP, soldiers are promoted to sergeant on the first day of the month following reclassification training and the award of the new MOS.

Applicants do not have to be on a promotion list to sergeant, but they must meet requirements for promotion, including the requisite NCO Education System courses, such as Structured Self-Development 1.

Additionally, applicants must be eligible for reclassification training, and be endorsed by the first lieutenant colonel in their chain of command.

Another specialty that is open to reclassification by qualified soldiers in the grades of promotable sergeant and staff sergeant is 25E, electromagnetic spectrum manager.

Two programs halted

The Bonus Extension and Retraining program has been suspended because of a change in law that allows the Army to pay a regular Selective Re-enlistment Bonus to soldiers who reclassify in conjunction with re-enlistment, Bragg noted.

Under the BEAR program, soldiers who successfully completed reclassification training were eligible for a bonus amount in effect at the time of their service extension in the BEAR program, or the bonus amount listed in the SRB Enhanced program on the date of re-enlistment, whichever was higher.

Bragg also noted that the Commander Allocation Process that was authorized in fiscal 2013 has not been renewed for fiscal 2014, although it might be following an ongoing review of force structure requirements for fiscal 2015.

Under CAP, major commanders were authorized to re-enlist a limited number of Skill Level 1 soldiers in severely overstrength MOSs. Commanders never reached their CAP limits, so no soldiers were denied re-enlistment because of the program.

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