Suitability Review Obstacle Course – Virginia Maryland – Promotions in the Army and the National Guard Fairfax

Army Officers are evaluated and selected for promotion based upon their records as reflected in their Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) – the performance and administrative portions of their Interactive Personnel Records Management System (iPERMS) file. For Active Component and Army Reserve Officers, the promotion process begins with an Army promotion board (a DA Board) conducted by Human Resources Command (HRC), at Fort Knox, Kentucky. For Army National Guard Officers, the promotion process begins either with a DA Board, or with a Federal Recognition Board conducted by their State. In addition to the performance section in iPERMS, there is a restricted file. This file contains 2nd lieutenant OERs, masked by Army policy; disciplinary records where the adjudicatory authority has decided to file them there rather than in the Performance File; and other sensitive matters. In past years, this restricted file was not used for promotion purposes but was used to screen officers for suitability for command and other sensitive assignments.

Sadly, the days of such a restrained and narrowly tailored suitability screening process are long gone. In recent years, the Army has increasingly behaved like an institution under siege. Facing relentless pressure from grandstanding politicians looking to make hay over pet issues at the Army’s expense, and unremitting criticism from a hostile media, the leadership of the Army is running scared. What was once a reasonable and prudent process of reviewing the moral qualifications of prospective commanders, has rapidly degenerated into something approaching a witch hunt. Where once the Army reviewed the contents an officer’s restricted file as a final vetting before command appointments, it now relentlessly searches out unfavorable information about officers from every conceivable source, from Inspector General (IG) records to records of criminal investigations. And the Army hasn’t stopped at plumbing the depths of every available database for dirt on its officers: It is delaying and blocking officer promotions on increasingly minor grounds.

Recently, the Army’s suitability screening process reached a new low: on several occasions, the Army has demanded that the Army National Guard actually revoke the promotion orders of officers already promoted. In one recent and egregious case, the Army demanded that the Army National Guard revoke the promotion of an officer from 2nd Lieutenant to 1st Lieutenant over a minor and ancient criminal matter that the officer had reported, and received a waiver for, when he enlisted; and again when he was commissioned as an officer. The Army now demands that his State justify, separately, why the officer should be promoted.

So – what does this mean for you? If you are an Army officer awaiting promotion now, or hoping to be promoted in the future, it means a great deal. The Army’s relentless, unforgiving, zero-tolerance mentality makes it vital that every officer defend his or her honor and reputation against any and all blemish.

Proactive Steps: In the current climate, any allegation of impropriety, however, minor, can come back to haunt you in future. It is absolutely vital that you mount a vigorous defense at the very earliest stages of any investigation, inquiry, or administrative proceeding. If you don’t you may find yourself haunted over and over by it over the course of your career.

Remedial Steps: If you are an Army National Guard Officer and adverse information about you already exists, in your Performance or Restricted files, in the records of the Inspector General (IG) or Criminal Investigation Command (CID), or anywhere else, you can expect to face further scrutiny upon being recommended for promotion, even after you have been recommended for Federal Recognition or selected by a Mandatory DA Board. The First step in the process will review by a General Officer Review Board (GORB), consisting of General Officers from HQDA G1, Department of the Army IG, and the Office of the Judge Advocate General (OTJAG). The GORB may recommend promotion, or further review. If the GORB feels that further review is warranted, your file will be referred to a Promotion Review Board (PRB). A PRB is, essentially, a full-blown promotion board that will reconsider your file anew, together with the adverse information at issue. If a PRB is recommended, you will be given 45 days to submit a rebuttal, which will be considered along with the entirety of your record and the adverse information at issue. The PRB will then make a recommendation to the Secretary of the Army as to whether you should be promoted or not.

If you face referral to a PRB, it is absolutely vital that you vigorously contest the allegations against you. Given the increasingly vindictive zero-tolerance mentality that more and more pervades the Army, you cannot rely on the PRB to reach a fair and just conclusion about your character and qualifications on its own. You need an advocate to make the case clearly and plainly for you.

The attorneys of SRIS Law Group, PC, are as dedicated to fighting for your career as you have been to fighting for our liberty. The Constitution that you have sworn to uphold guarantees to you the right to due process before being denied promotion. Let us help you make the most of your rights – let us defend your honor, your reputation, and everything you have spent a lifetime working for.

Our law firm has client meeting locations in Virginia & Maryland. If you need help with a military investigation in Virginia or Maryland, do not hesitate to call us. Our attorneys will do their best to help you get the best result possible. B

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