New retention guidelines announced as part of Army drawdown | – Leader Development for Army Professionals

New retention guidelines announced as part of Army drawdown

The Army, like any organization, must react and adapt itself according to changing outside conditions. We are now entering a part of the cyclical lifespan of the U.S. military called a drawdown. What does this mean to Soldiers? Simply put, if you have committed an unforgivable sin such as: DUI, drug use, lying, cheating, or stealing you will have to work very hard to be retained.

New Army retention guidelines

The Army has laid out a series of new retention rules effective 1 March 2012. Soldiers who have a poor evaluation report on file will not be eligible to reenlist. What does poor mean? Here’s a list of all the symptoms of a poor NCOER:

  • NO entry in the values section
  • Senior Rater rating of 4 or 5
  • Relief for cause report
  • Overweight
  • APFT failure
  • AWOL 96 hours or greater
  • Failure of a service school
  • Use of drugs
  • Alcohol related incidents that resulted in some form of punishment or administrative action like an Article 15 or letter of reprimand

How can you survive the drawdown?

If you are barred to renlistement, were involved in a significant act of misconduct, or received a poor evaluation report chances are you will be facing the possibility of either denial of reenlistment or separation from service. So what can you do?

Find help

Step one: I highly recommend that you seek legal guidance from JAG. Also consider the possibility of requesting assistance from a civilian attorney who specializes in military law. These consultations tend to be rather inexpensive but the information you gain may prove priceless if it leads to saving your career.

Request an exception of policy

If you want to fight for your job, you can apply for an exception to policy for reenlistment. To do this you need to show your chain of command you have learned from the incident in question and you are a stellar Soldier. Even then you will most likely face difficulty as the goal is to reenlist only those Soldiers who have shown the ability to perform to standard throughout their enlistment without becoming involved in misconduct.

Prepare for civilian life

If you do not secure an exception of policy, you will need to come to grips with your new reality. There is a lot of work to be done before you separate out of military service. Find your separation date. If you will not be allowed to reenlist you may have one-one and half years to prepare for your ETS. This will allow you to be well prepared for transition to civilian life. JAG and your local REUP NCO can help you identify the benefits you will be entitled to according to the type of discharge you are being separated under. Read more about preparing for civilian life.

Serve your country

Remember, you must continue to be a professional Soldier. Just because you are moving away from military service does not mean that you are no longer the person you were while on active duty. If you have bumped heads with your chain of command in the past, this is the time to Soldier up and be a professional. Your chain of command can be of great assistance in helping provide a positive environment during your separation experience.

You will likely find that your chain of command has empathy for your situation and wants to do everything they can to ease your transition. Do not spoil this opportunity by being unprofessional and causing trouble. This will only hurt your cause and potentially result in a loss of further benefits.

Keep moving forward

Do not allow your separation from service to color your view of life in a negative manner. I have served with numerous individuals who simply amazed me by growing where they were planted. They made the best of the situation and achieved great things through positive attitude, willingness to learn, and hard work. Separation is not the destination, it is only a stop on the journey of life. You choose where your final destination will be… Get involved. Choose it, and work to achieve your goals.

Best of luck in your civilian endeavors. Thanks for your service to this nation.

Additional Reading

  • “New Army retention standards take effect, more to follow” [link]
  • Policy Message 12-02: “Reenlistment Options and Window” [link]

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posted on 02/21/2012 under Articles, Site News
Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

Disclaimer: Though all content posted on is reviewed by our qualified subject matter experts, you should not make decisions based solely on the information contained in this post. Use information from multiple sources when making important professional decisions. This is not an official government website.

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  • Michael Bleckler

    I received a 4 in block four for the first time. My former LT really weighed heavily in my most recent NCOER; I ETS this September and I will have more than fifteen years in total service. Wanting to change MOS to a Non-combat specific so will that NCOER affect me CSM? Thanks

    • Mark Gerecht

      I am not sure if the NCOER will impact you. That depends on several issues. If you are going to the guard or reserves and selecting another MOS it could have some bearing as these agency might request your previous evaluation reports but I doubt it. Selection for other MOSs are usually based on in/out calls, and your ASVAB scores. If you plan to seek another MOS in the guard or reserve then I would suggest you contact a local recruiter and ask them the questions. For example: I plan to enter the guard/reserve and I would like to get another MOS. Can you tell me what is required to do this and can I start the paperwork now?
      Hope this helps
      Did you find this information useful? I appreciate your feedback!

      • Jeff Harris


        I have been a ARNG Recruiter for several years. The NCOER is not a requirement for enlistment into the Guard, and the Soldier could do an MOS Reclass – based on MOS vacancies. That was the good news. The “not so good news” is the Soldier’s Iperms record will now fall under the ARNG. After enlistment and EPS rolls around, the Promotion Board will review his NCOERs. That is just 1 example of the Active duty NCOER coming up. There would be others, such as applying for an AGR position, submitting for a unit transfer, etc.

        SFC Harris

      • Mark Gerecht

        SFC Harris,
        Thanks for the additional information! Hope to see you commenting more on

  • carlo

    CAN a Soldier get a NO block under ARMY VALUES for failing APFT?

    • Mark Gerecht

      I would not see a “No” entry under values for an APFT as unreasonable because there is a block specifically designated for this on the back of the form. It would be more appropriate to annotate it in the Physical fitness block on the back of the form. Sometimes raters make the mistake of docking Soldiers in several areas of the evaluation report for one issue. If the rater give the Leader a “NO” for APFT in values and then provides a negative comment regarding the APFT on the back of the form I see this as overkill.

      Did you find this information useful? We appreciate your feedback!

  • SPC Des

    I have a big question, about a Breach of Contract with a Reenlistment. My husband was LOCKED IN for Germany, it was confirmed he was a day away from his ceremony when his orders “disappeared”. He was again given a spot in Germany, LOCKED IN, and again a day later- he was no longer PCS’ing. Finally a higher-up in the HRC gave us a list that he would “absolutely be able” to lock us in for. We took Hawaii and last night we received a call saying there was a snag. We were locked in supposedly a few nights ago but now they say he doesn’t have a required “Top Secret Clearance”. I thought it was the retention officers job to know these things when offering a new base? Is this considered a breach of contract? We want to go to higher-ups but don’t want the doors slammed in our faces.

    • SGT NICK

      This happens all the time, but when you say “locked in” I do not believe that means he has signed all the necessary paperwork. Germany is downsizing with two heavy brigades being gone by mid next year, no longer an easy assignment to get orders for. The Pacific Command is beefing it up big time so I am surprise he could not find another job there. He might be better off calling his branch manager or senior nco to talk about other PCS options. Remember though these managers are trying to fill the tough assignments so he might have to volunteer for some type of airborne special forces support assignment.

      His branch manager can be find at the official Human Resource Command (HRC) webpage.

  • SGT Dan

    SGT Nick I appreciate the advice on matters of health, but the truth is that I have never considered becoming a non- retainable Soldier. My PT has always been high, weapons are good and I have never received an Article 15(other than a summary as a Private). This is not of the true concern here in the Army. My MOS is targeted out of all MOS’s. I cannot change MOS’s due to even strength and cannot move forward unless I get on the Commandants list at BNOC (that’s best case). 798 is almost impossible to reach, and unfortunately I don’t think I am going to make it. 15 years, a wife and 5 children, and now I am faced with getting out and getting nothing. I am very upset about it, but I am continuing to try. I have not lost hope yet, but my future in the Army looks pretty grim. {Signed} Worried in Afghanistan

    • Part-Time-Commander

      SGT Dan,

      Have you considered switching to the ARNG or USAR? That way you could finish up your service and still have something to show for it. The AGR Program is an exceptional program if you can get selected for it.

      In either case, I wish you all the best.



    I provide some guidance even though I should not. If you are a combat veteran then you need to file for any problem you are facing in your physical or mental health. I’m not telling you to lie or exaggerate but anyone that has deployed to a combat zone is not the same when they come back no matter how much you are in denial. Make sure you list everything and be persistent, sleeping, sweating, dizziness, migraines, nightmares, back, or knee problems need to be addressed as soon as possible. Do not feel guilty about doing this, your life was forever changed and you should be compensated for it. You will most likely only have six months left in your contract if the Army QMP/QSP’s you out.

    Also even more important now is to fight any 4 or 5 rating, relief for cause, alcohol related or failing service schools reports. You are going to be hammered no matter the outcome so get a lawyer and hope for the best expect the worst.

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