Army’s new policy: meet standards or get kicked out, even if re-enlisted indefinitely

Sgt. Danny Kintchen, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, an information technology specialist assigned to the 10th Sustainment Brigade, reviews his re-enlistment contract with Sgt. Jeff Desrosier, a Tacoma, Wash., native, Headquarters and Headquarters Company retention NCO, before signing June 21, 2014 at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. Kintchen’s contract was a four year assignment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

The US Army has made several changes to the enlisted force retention program in light of drawdowns and gender integration, with some Soldiers possibly facing separation- even if they reenlisted indefinitely.

The new changes come under Army Directive 2016-19 (AD 2016-19) and will push to ensure that Soldiers will be placed where they are best suited and that only the most qualified Soldiers will be granted the privilege of re-enlisting.

“The key is to reenlist quality Soldiers to meet our purpose of fulfilling end strength to better posture the Army, maintain readiness and care for Soldiers,” Army Training and Doctrine Command career counselor SGM Cielito Pascual-Jackson said in an Army press release. “In order to meet that mission we need key people to understand the responsibilities in embracing and communicating this program.”

While the Bar to Continued Service Program sounds foreboding, the practice  is nothing new. Little more than a rehashed version of the older “Bar to Reenlistment Program” with a few extras, the BCSP is essentially a punitive rehabilitation tool to motivate those who fall below the standard to improve while separating from service those who are unwilling/unable to improve.

The BSCP encompasses all enlisted ranks in the Army’s active and Reserve components, and sends out punitive separation notifications to Soldiers who fall behind in rated performance issues. The bar to continuing their service can be enacted at any rank, and can even affect Soldiers who had indefinite terms of service or were career Soldiers.

However, not all is lost if a Soldier receives a BCSP warning- the bar on their reenlistment will be reviewed at periods of three and six months before separation procedures begin, which allows Soldiers time to improve on where they are lacking.

According to an informational release put out by the Army this month, here are some key areas Soldiers should be focusing on to avoid getting the dreaded notice (be warned, this list is not all-inclusive):

  • Physical assessment standards.
  •  Staff sergeants with 36 months’ time in grade must graduate from the Advanced Leadership Course.
  •  Sergeant first class’ with 36 months’ time in grade must graduate from the Senior Leaders Course.

NCOs with two or more years’ time in grade and more than 18 months until their established retention control point may be denied continued service under the Qualitative Service Program.

In short, Soldiers who wish to keep their careers should focus on things that are expected of them from the day of their enlistment, such as staying fit, passing required health and performance evaluations and pushing to further their military education whenever possible.

Indefinite Reenlistment is also on the way out, having been changed to the NCO Career Status Program.

While the programs are similar, the new method will be more aligned with the military’s revised retirement system, which pushes the application date two years beyond the Soldier’s 10th service year, which was standard under the old program.

In addition, the new directive will reduce retention control points from E-6 on up, as well as reducing the number of years NCOs can serve.

Again, NCOs who can’t make the cut will not be left “high and dry”- the Army will give each soldier more than one year to plan their retirement as the implementation of the new control points will be staggered based on a rubric of active service dates and rank.

In the case of re-classing to a different MOS or initial enlistment, Soldiers and Recruits will be facing stiffer prerequisites to determine if they can handle the physical demands of their desired career fields.

The Army suggests that “Soldiers or recruits preparing to take the test should practice the following exercises to ensure they meet their desired specialty requirements.”

Standing long jump:

  • Minimum: 120 centimeters.
  • Standard: 140 centimeters.
  • Maximum: 160 centimeters and above.

4.4 pound medicine ball seated power throw:

  • ✭ Minimum: 350 centimeters.
  • ✭ Standard: 400 centimeters.
  • ✭ Maximum: 450 centimeters and above.

Interval aerobic run, similar to suicides at 20 meter timed intervals:

  • Minimum: 36 shuttles.
  • Standard: 40 shuttles.
  • Maximum: 43 shuttles.


  • Minimum: 120 pounds.
  • Standard: 140 pounds.
  • Maximum: 160 pounds.

The changes come on the heels of the Army’s move to allow females to serve in combat roles, which would require female lower enlisted, NCOs and Officer to be able to meet standards befitting of the more elite occupational specialties that were previously closed off to them.

“I tell any female Soldier that comes into my office for career counseling to re-class into a combat position,” said TRADOC Career Counselor SFC Pedro Leon. “It’s a huge development and promotion opportunity. When you’re in a board and they see that you have combat experience, even if it was just for four years and you went back to your original MOS, that’s huge.”

While the new rules may seem like an Army-wide case of “team cutting,” SGM Pascual-Jackson said that the program is more geared towards giving Soldiers more career opportunities, and will require leaders to step in and ensure the process goes smoothly.

“We are just facilitators, so when leaders don’t understand the purpose of the retention program for the Army or where they fit in, it’s a real problem,” she said. “It can cause confusion and unnecessary actions that could unnecessarily end a Soldier’s career. Our line of effort and the mission of retention for the Army is readiness and end strength. In order for us to meet our mission, we need leaders to understand their role, which is to embrace and communicate the retention program by instilling the importance to subordinate leaders.”

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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