U.S. Army Colonel Paul Schmitt, a Foreign Area Officer (FAO) stationed in Kyiv, Ukraine, was planning to retire after 30 years of service. Schmitt serves as the Army Attaché with the Defense Attaché Office (DAO) at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. The DAO represents the Department of Defense to the host-nation government and military and assists and advises the U.S. ambassador on military matters.
With Schmitt’s impending retirement and no one qualified to replace him, the Army faced a critical capability shortage. A new authority granted by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2019 allows the Army to authorize select officers to serve up to 40 years. Under previous authorities, officers could only be retained no more than 5 years based on their time in grade and service. When offered to extend his MRD, Schmitt agreed to postpone his retirement plans and continue to serve.
Schmitt is one of ten officers selected for a 2020 pilot, which includes Army War College professors and FAOs. The MRD Extension differs from previous Selective Continuation (SELCON) and retiree recall authorities because it focuses solely on an individual’s unique talents and leverages their knowledge, skills, behaviors, and preferences to retain proven officers where and when they are needed.