Soldiers ruck march at Fort Carson, Colo.

Soldiers ruck march at Fort Carson, Colo. (Chelsea Durante/U.S. Army)

The Army is overstaffed with infantry and armor lieutenants and needs some of them who were commissioned in 2021 to move into combat-support jobs, service officials announced Tuesday.

The service is asking some 250 infantry and armor officers from the group year of 2021 to move voluntarily to the adjutant general or finance or signal corps, Army Human Resources Command said. Service officials said they were concerned current staffing levels would soon leave the units without enough officers serving in those positions, raising potential combat readiness issues.

“Unless we offer these steps to rebalance the force, the Army will face a shortage of battalion and brigade [personnel officers], [logistics officers] and finance positions worldwide,” said Col. Charlone Stallworth, the talent alignment and development director for Human Resources Command. “That not only impacts Army manning, but also our readiness and ability to take care of soldiers.”

Officials pitched the needed changes in career fields as beneficial to the service and the officers — giving them a chance to align their job with their talents and interests. The moves also would help untangle a logjam of officers waiting to attend the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course, which is a required military education course for those who want to serve as a captain in the infantry and armor fields.

Infantry and armor are among the most sought-after branches for new officers because of their front-line combat roles, opportunities to lead soldiers on the battlefield and the belief that serving in direct combat positions is the best path toward achieving high-ranking posts in the future. The service has long required more junior officers in the infantry and armor fields to lead platoons and serve in other staff roles than it does when officers reach mid-career and higher ranks.

The Army has other programs that allow junior officers to serve in those combat branches before transitioning into support roles, but this is the first time the service is offering such an unplanned, seamless transition opportunity into an understaffed career field for some of its first lieutenants, officials said.

In all, the Army needs about 130 lieutenants from the 2021 group to move into the adjutant general field, about 100 to move into the signal corps and about 20 to switch to finance, according to HRC.

The service said it would not force anyone to change branches at this time. The program could be opened later to officers in other career fields and year groups.

Those willing to change career fields must log into the Active Duty Officer Assignment Interactive Module Version 2, or AIM 2, platform and rank their branch preferences among infantry, armor, adjutant general, finance and signal from 1 to 5 by Feb. 24. Those who place other branches above their infantry or armor branch will be considered volunteers for a career field change, according to HRC directions.

Officers approved will be immediately transferred into their new branch upon notification, officials said. They will be contacted at that point by their new branch’s career manager about their next job placement and scheduling for the Captain’s Career Course.

Col. Miles Gengler, who is in charge of readiness for HRC’s Force Shaping Directorate, said the opportunity could open new paths for officers who want to command units. He said he was commissioned as an armor officer but later shifted into the adjutant general corps and commanded at the battalion and brigade level.

“We strongly encourage these affected junior officers to consider this another opportunity to continue to serve the Army, albeit in a different capacity,” Gengler said. “The Army is committed to matching officer desires and talents to its requirements and will do its best to accommodate both. Adjutant general, signal and finance officers are equally dedicated and passionate about their branch as infantry and armor officers.”

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Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.

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