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New battalion commander selection program

BCAP is set for January and February 2020

Officers selected to participate in the pilot for the Battalion Commander Assessment Program conduct standardized testing at Fort Benning, Ga. in July. Photo credit: Army Talent Management Task Force

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The Army announced a new program for officers on the lieutenant colonel centralized selection list to attend a five-day assessment program at Fort Knox in January.

In January and February 2020, those selected by the board process will attend the Battalion Commander Assessment Program (BCAP) where they will undergo a series of assessments aimed at determining their fitness for command and potential.

In recent years, battalion commanders and officers identified to fill critical billets on division-level staffs, were selected by a board that met to review all eligible officers' personnel files, determine if they make the cut for battalion command, and produce an order of merit list of those selected.

General James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army, announced the new initiative to pick battalion commanders at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA).

"We spend more time and more money on selecting a private to be in Ranger regiment than we do selecting what I would argue is one of the most consequential leadership positions in the Army, our battalion commanders," McConville said.

The BCAP consists of physical, cognitive, and non-cognitive assessments. During the assessment program, participants will test on written and verbal communication, interview with behavioral psychologists, and take part in a panel interview with senior Army officers.

The BCAP will amass talent assessment data about individual officers, more than the amount of information the Army traditionally uses to make selection decisions. The assessments used are objective, scientifically valid instruments designed to assess potential. Evaluations, which are subjective in nature, rely on observation of past actions, and are used to rank a person against his or her peers.

Data gathered from the entire process is used to calculate an assessment order of merit that Human Resources Command will use to determine primary and alternate selects and to slate officers to positions. However, past performance, as measured by an officer's standing on the centralized selection order of merit list, will still play a large role in determining a new order of merit.

During his remarks at AUSA's annual meeting, McConville mentioned the Army will potentially expand the BCAP to sergeants major and brigade-level commands in the future, based on what the Army learns in January.

The BCAP is one of dozens of Army Talent Management initiatives underway for officers. But Army leadership plans to extend these initiatives to enlisted soldiers and civilians.

"After we prototype and test these programs with our officers and make sure we have them right, we will expand them to our enlisted soldiers, to our civilians," said McConville.

The Army conducted two battalion commander assessment pilots at Fort Benning, Georgia. this summer. Participants included Infantry and Armor officers on the lieutenant colonel centralized selection list in the alternate category and some from the primary.

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