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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon is overhauling the way officers can become joint qualified, a requirement for anyone who aspires to general or flag rank.

The new system, which goes into effect Oct. 1, gives officers a “dual track to get their qualification rating,” according to Sheila Earle, acting principal director to the deputy undersecretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy.

One track is the current credit system, where officers become joint qualified only by holding very specific jobs, listed on a Joint Duty Assignment list, for longer than 10 months.

But a new, “experience” path allows officers to earn points for an expanded roster of positions that never before qualified, Earl told reporters Tuesday.

The experience path “allows us to capture all of that extra talent that is working on joint task forces, and gives them the credit of being a joint qualified officer,” Rear Adm. Donna Crisp, the Joint Staff’s director for manpower and personnel, said Tuesday.

Those jobs will include staff jobs with the militaries of other countries, task force positions during contingencies such as Hurricane Katrina, positions with nongovernmental organizations and other joint billets that never made the old Joint Duty Assignment List, she said.

The experience path also will give officers credit for all time served, regardless of how long or short, Crisp said.

Officers will even get additional points for jobs they hold in combat zones, in recognition of the fact that the duty is much more intense, Crisp said.

And the system will allow officers to start collecting points toward their joint qualification as O-1s, instead of having to wait until they reach O-4, Earle said.

The new joint qualification system is also being opened so that Reserve and National Guard officers can become joint-qualified, although — with the exception of the chief of both Reserve forces — there is no legal requirement for any officer in the Reserve components to have that qualification in order to be considered for promotion to flag or general officer rank.

Even so, Reserve joint qualifications “are very important, because if you are looking for a specialist to do humanitarian operations, now we’ll be able to find them,” Crisp said. “It will be listed [on a Reserve officer’s resume].”

Joint qualification to be eligible for promotion to 0-7 rank became a requirement for active-duty senior military leaders as part of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986.

The GNA, as it is referred to in the Pentagon, was a watershed in U.S. military organizational reform, vastly changing the way the U.S. military and its civilian masters interact with each other.

Among the act’s reforms was its insistence on the concept of cooperation, or “jointness,” between the different services.

However, Earl said, as far-reaching as the act was, “what we couldn’t predict in 1986 is how joint we would become,” Crisp said, particularly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


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