New retirement extensions allow the Army to retain critical talent

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.


US Army: Suspected Rockford mass shooter was on leave, stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida

The US Army released a statement Sunday on Duke Webb, 37, who was arrested in Rockford after a mass shooting at Don Carter Lanes left 3 dead and 3 wounded late Saturday.

Duke, Army Sgt. 1st Class, worked as a Special Forces Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), located at Camp Bull Simons, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. According to the US Army, Webb joined the service in 2008 and was on leave when the shooting occurred.

According to the US Army, a Sgt. 1st Class (E7) has up to 15 years of military experience.


New in 2021: The Army Combat Fitness Test — what you need to know

The new Army Combat Fitness Test officially became the service’s test of record this past October, but lawmakers are poised to hold off any further implementation, pending an independent study to determine how it will impact deployed soldiers, recruiting and retention.

The six-event ACFT has long caused concerns that its stricter requirements could force troops out of the service, take an inordinate amount of time to prepare for and require a burdensome amount of equipment to execute, especially in forward deployed areas.

If the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act passes in its current form, a provision in the law will require an independent study to determine the “extent, if any, to which the test would adversely impact” soldiers “stationed or deployed” to areas that make it difficult to conduct “outdoor physical training on a frequent or sustained basis,” the defense bill reads.


West Point accuses more than 70 cadets of cheating in worst academic scandal in nearly 45 years

More than 70 cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point were accused of cheating on a math exam, the worst academic scandal since the 1970s at the Army’s premier training ground for officers.

Fifty-eight cadets admitted cheating on the exam, which was administered remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of them have been enrolled in a rehabilitation program and will be on probation for the remainder of their time at the academy. Others resigned, and some face hearings that could result in their expulsion.

The scandal strikes at the heart of the academy’s reputation for rectitude, espoused by its own moral code, which is literally etched in stone:

“A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”

Tim Bakken, a law professor at West Point, called the scandal a national security issue. West Point cadets become senior leaders the nation depends on.