FORT BLISS, Texas – One of the oldest basic branches in the U.S. Army, the Adjutant General’s Corps celebrated its 245th birthday on June 16.
While its origins and mission date back to the American Revolution and the formation of the Continental Army, today’s AG Soldiers use technology to provide the best in manpower, HR and music support to commanders in order to enhance readiness at all echelons and ensure success across the full spectrum of military operations.
In the 21st Century information-age, the Army is changing to best employ its personnel to most effectively achieve America’s national security requirements. AG officers and Noncommissioned officers manage functions from the HR life-cycle while continuously aiming to provide innovative solutions to optimize Army personnel readiness.
“As HR professionals, we provide support for Soldiers by making sure that all their personnel actions are processed in a timely manner because if their papers, leave, finances or mail do not get to them whenever they need it, it affects their morale,” said SGM Estela Delgado, a G-1 Human Resources Specialist at the 1st Armored Division.
“We make sure they have everything they need so they can focus on their tasks and carrying out their missions successfully,” she added.
Technology and more immediate interaction between Soldiers and their branch or assignment managers has transformed Army HR management in recent years.
A new initiative is the Army Talent Alignment Process (ATAP) — a decentralized, regulated, market-style hiring system — that aligns officers and units using the Assignment Interactive Module (AIM 2.0), a web-based talent management portal which allows officers to build professional resumes highlighting their unique Knowledge, Skills, Behaviors (KSBs) and preferences.
Talent Management is a deliberate approach to the processes and systems that enable the Army to better manage its people, starting with the Officer Corps.
According to CPT Margarita Quintana, a G-1 Human Resources Officer at the 1st Armored Division, one of the best parts of the AIM module is the ability for officers to connect with a unit directly to ask questions or even conduct interviews.
“Officers can interact and communicate with the unit straight on without having to wait a long time for results to come back like we did in the past,” said Quintana.
This initiative is part of the Army’s most comprehensive reform of its three officer personnel systems across the Total Force that include Active, Guard and Reserve, since the Officer Personnel Act of 1947.
Quintana has enjoyed seeing these new initiatives develop and improve after each assignment cycle.
“When the system was first deployed it was still in the testing process, but this last assignment cycle it was really truly implemented,” said Quintana. “In my experience, it was probably the biggest cycle we’ve had so far here at Fort Bliss; we were able to recruit many quality officers.”
Until now the ATAP system was only available to officers, as testing new programs was much easier to do with the smaller officer population. The Army is developing the Assignment Satisfaction Key-Enlisted Marketplace (ASK-EM) for 2021.
Modeled after the AIM 2.0 marketplace for officers, the enlisted virtual marketplace will allow staff sergeants through master sergeants to prioritize their preferences for valid and available worldwide assignments, giving them more control over their careers.
“Enlisted manning has changed so much over the years,” said Delgado. “Now they do it in cycles, five per year. In the past they used to put Soldiers on assignment almost every week.”
“With the new ASK-EM module, Enlisted Soldiers from E6 to E8 will be able to compete for positions and see how they measure up against the KSBs with full transparency,” she added.
ASK-EM marketplace will enable enlisted Soldiers to see all the jobs available during their permanent change of station (PCS) cycle, as well as the KSBs required for the positions. They will also be able to reach out to units directly to discuss what the jobs entail. It will also be provide enlisted Soldiers with their YMAVs (Year Month Available to Move) for the first time in Army history.
“The new enlisted talent marketplace is going to give us more predictability as to how long we’re going to be on installation, what jobs are available, where we can compete, how we can improve, and what we have to do to get ahead and get promoted,” said Delgado.
“In other words, it’s designed to place the right Soldier in the right position at the right time,” said Quintana.
The AG Corps is dedicated to taking care of Soldiers and manning the Army to enhance unit readiness to fight and win wars. In an environment where introduction of a new system, or one Military Personnel (MILPER) message can change everything, leader development among the AG Corps is more important than ever.
At the 1st Armored Division, the G-1 staff keep up with the ever-changing HR environment through a quarterly training program run with the MPD (Military Personnel Division) called “HR University”.
“It’s an opportunity for all of the HR entities on the installation to come together to train one another about any updated regulations or new techniques we’ve learned to do our jobs better,” said Delgado. “We share our knowledge across the board in order to keep things consistent, and to prevent misinformation from going back and forth.”
Open to all HR professionals at Fort Bliss, HR University is a full-day training workshop where HR professionals from across the installation can share insights and hone their skills and expertise to improve the HR community as a whole, as well as to better serve Soldiers.
“The Army keeps on changing, our HR systems keep on changing; We’re learning new things all the time” said Delgado.
The oldest members of the Adjutant General Corps are the Army bands. Since even before the U.S. Army was created in 1775, musicians have been an integral part of the military. From the signal corps drummers in the Revolutionary War, to the full jazz bands of WWII, music has been a critical part of the Army’s success. Army bands have provided music to instill in Soldiers the will to fight and win, foster the support of citizens, and promote national interests at home and abroad.
Modern Army bands provide resources like digital listening rooms where audiences can download recorded band music and make requests for support digitally. The 1st Armored Division Band regularly records concerts, live streams, and makes music features for social media in order to stay relevant and reach new audiences.
“We’ve been posting photos and videos on Facebook as early as 2011, but recently we’ve been posting much more due to live performances being restricted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said 1st Armored Division Band Commander, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Moore. “Lately we’ve been providing a lot of support by pre-recording our missions in lieu of live performances.”
Over the course of its long and distinguished history, the AG Corps has been responsible for several critical personnel and administrative support functions that have served to sustain the Army in peace and war. It will continue to adapt with technology for the next 245 years to serve the greatest resource our Army has: people.