Army reserve chief investigating overkill, wants faster promotions

WASHINGTON — Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels remains worried about her people.

The Army Reserve’s top general, whose “readiness over metrics” mantra aims to make part-time work more soldier-centric and less administratively burdensome, claimed “good progress” on some areas of her initiative in an exclusive interview on 11 October in the Army Times. But she freely admitted that some problems facing the Army’s smallest branch still keep her up at night.

Daniels, who holds a doctorate in computer science, said she has ordered the Reserve inspector general to investigate whether component headquarters — from her staff to the company level — is delegating too many short-notice tasks that overburden leaders. The inspection began after February 17 Operation Army Times that details the burden of part-time command on reserve officers, and Daniels said its results will arrive in the next 30 to 45 days.

He says he is concerned that job managers may be overwhelmingly down to the company level for execution, where full-time staff members known as Army Reserve managers are “trying their best” to keep up with relatively low wages. And when part-time leaders are evaluated based on their unit’s administrative means, too much work often ends up on their plate — and often without pay, said officers who spoke to Army Times in February.

“How many job managers come out of the different staffs that leaders may not know about?” Daniels asked. “Including myself. My staff is probably putting out things that I don’t realize they’re putting out and delegating to subordinates to do things that I might not realize they’re delegating.”

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Daniels noted that the IG is also evaluating whether headquarters is providing adequate time and reasonable guidance to prioritize along with the work, as well as “not exposing them to [5 p.m.] on Friday afternoon”.

The reserves chief celebrated the improvement in weekend practice time actually spent on training. He emphasized the units’ push for “hard, realistic training done safely” in the wake of a 2022 general inspection that found many reserve units spent almost no training time because of administrative demands.

In her eyes, “giving soldiers something interesting, relevant, meaningful, cool, exciting, [or] exciting to do” will increase recruitment retention and boost hiring numbers that have lagged for several years. The item “had the highest retention we’ve had in quite some time” in fiscal 2023, he said.

One of Daniels’ new focuses is speeding up and streamlining promotion processes. He said the component has successfully accelerated captain promotions by reducing the time it takes for second lieutenants to advance.

Promotions of mid-ranking NCOs have posed another challenge.

“We found that over the past three years, the Army Reserve has been behind promoting master sergeants by one month each year,” he explained. Setting a quantitative target for sergeant promotions did not fix the problem. Now her motto is “E5 in five… by the time you’re five, you should be a sergeant.”

Daniels stressed that her units need to do a better job of setting up regular promotion boards and sending their eligible specialists to required military training courses based on their leadership potential, not whether that soldier is ready to become an NCO right away.

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“I want to reward potential,” he said. “Any other council meeting on [Human Resources Command] or wherever else, it’s about possibilities. Why don’t we do this for our experts?”

Davis Winkey is a senior reporter covering the Army. Focuses on investigations, personnel concerns and military justice. Davis, also a Guard veteran, was a finalist for the 2023 Livingston Awards for his work with The Texas Tribune investigating National Guard missions on the border. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill.

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