The Army has canceled thousands of previously approved permanent change-of-station orders for soldiers reporting to their new units after Nov. 1, according to personnel officials and an internal Army newsletter.
The Army’s top civilian personnel official, Roy Wallace, said the cancellations are intended to be temporary — but he warned that an “extended” government shutdown could derail the plan. Wallace, the Army G-1′s assistant deputy chief of staff, and G-1 Sgt. Maj. Christopher “Smoke” Stevens spoke with Army Times in a Thursday phone interview.
Approximately 7,500 soldiers are impacted by the move, Wallace said. They are receiving notifications via email, according to an internal personnel newsletter.
The G-1 and Human Resources Command canceled the orders after recently realizing that commands had “lost track” of approximately 15,000 PCS orders approved in late 2022. Because many PCS entitlements are paid out of military pay funds — which Congress must approve every fiscal year — the error means that the service doesn’t have enough money to pay for the roughly 7,500 moves approved between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30 with reporting dates of Nov. 1 or later.
Wallace said that those soldiers should plan their previous report dates, because their orders will be reissued from fiscal 2024 funds as soon as they are available.
According to the internal newsletter, certain types of moves aren’t affected, including expedited transfers, compassionate assignments, initial entry training orders and confinements.
Stevens said personnel officials worked with other Army agencies to mitigate impacts to affected soldiers. Stevens, who also asked that impacted troops “trust in the chain of command,” and the internal newsletter said soldiers can expect the following:
- Their unit of assignment and report date will not change.
- They will not lose their waitlist spots for housing or childcare at their new installation.
- Already scheduled household goods shipments can go forward once new fiscal 2024-funded orders are ready.
- Approved Exceptional Family Member Program dependents won’t have a change in status.
In order to prevent similar errors from happening in the future, Wallace said the G-1 will add a PCS reporting requirement to standing military pay audit meetings. Commands will take responsibility for their PCS funds, he said, and “going forward, the chance of something like this happening again is slim.”
But a looming potential government shutdown could undo the interim plan, Wallace confirmed. Although the civilian employees in the military personnel divisions are required to work during and lapse in funding, his team is still gambling on a quick resolution in Congress.
“We’re not slowing anything down. We’re not slowing housing; we’re not slowing childcare; we’re not slowing transportation,” the assistant G-1 said. “But we are betting that we won’t be pushed into November...and if we start seeing those kinds of things, we’ll start working again on how we can mitigate this.”
If a shutdown were to go on, though, Wallace said it would impact more than just soldiers’ personal lives.
“We don’t PCS people just because we want to — we PCS people because there’s a unit that needs them,” he cautioned. “And the readiness of that unit is based on the people that it has in it.”
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.