Army officers being reviewed by subordinates before they take command of battalions

Lt. Col. Perry Stiemke, outgoing commander of the 92nd Engineer battalion, 20 Engineer Brigade, along with fellow senior leaders, salutes during the national anthem at the 92nd EN BN change of command ceremony at Fort Stewart, Ga., Dec. 5, 2019. The “Star-Spangled Banner” is played during change-of-command ceremonies as it is tradition to honor our nation’s history.

The US Army is beginning a new program to evaluate officers and select them for battalion command positions.

The new Battalion Command Assessment Program (BCAP) ranges from physical fitness tests to subordinate surveys and panel screenings.

“It’s about transformational change,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville. “Battalion commanders are the most consequential leaders in the Army because they train and develop our young soldiers -NCOs and officers- they have more impact on their decisions to continue serving than any other leader.”

According to the Federal News Network, McConville said the Army was “spending more time assessing privates going into Ranger school than commanders who would lead soldiers.”

The five-day process will select battalion commanders for 450 commands, pulling from over 800 majors and lieutenant colonels who will be tested on their mental, physical and cognitive states.

“We are going to be in a much better position to take a look at where certain officers have holes in their swings and we can go back and start developing that,” McConville said. “If we have someone who has sharper elbows or could work better with their peers or subordinates, we can catch that early on.”

The new system will hopefully create a better crop of battalion commanders, and the pilot program previously held at Georgia’s Fort Benning is a good indicator that it may.

“What we found is through BCAP we came up with very different decisions about who we would have put in command compared to the traditional selection system,” Army Talent Management Task Force Director Maj. Gen. J. P. McGee said. “What we are saying with BCAP is we need to take in other relevant information about candidates for battalion command to make the best informed decision as an Army about who to put in those positions.”

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