Promote Now: The Officer Selection Board Process
During my time as a Board Recorder at Human Resources Command I wrote an article for the Infantry Branch newsletter on the officer selection board process. That article is included as an attachment for further reference. However, this post highlights a few key take-aways from the article about preparing for your next promotion board. After reading this post, I highly recommend reading the attached article, as the board process is widely miss-understood. Thank you for your time, and what you do for the Army!
One of the most important first steps prior to any board is to read the Military Personnel (MILPER) message. These messages are usually published between 90-120 days prior to the board convene date and provide valuable information and dates that are key to your preparation including specific eligibility criteria; the My Board File (MBF) open and close dates; and evaluation and photo deadlines. About 60 days prior to the board, officers in the considered population have the opportunity to view, correct, and certify their own board file using the “MY BOARD FILE” application on the HRC website. Voting members will not know if you have certified your file or not. However, failing to view, correct, or certify the board file does not prevent board members from viewing its content. Additionally, certifying the board file does not prevent the official record from changing prior to the convene date. If new documents are posted to the official record after the board file is certified and prior to the board convene date those documents will be seen by the board.
Letters to the board president should be limited to addressing unusual circumstances only, explaining something that is not reflected in your board file. A good example would be an Officer is hospitalized for combat related injuries and hasn’t received an evaluation in two years. A bad example would be claiming a mediocre evaluation was received simply because the senior rater did not like you or telling the Board President how great your file is. Even though your letter is addressed to the Board President, all board members will see your letter.
The DA Photo is an officer’s handshake with the board. Although a DA Photo is valid for five years, a new DA Photo is required if you are promoted or have any changes the photo would reflect. You should make necessary alterations to ensure your uniform fits properly, and remember only wear authorized individual awards and decorations. A best practice is to have someone present to inspect your uniform while getting photographed to ensure it is correct. While at the Photo Facility, review the photo after it is taken and ask for another photo if it is unclear or dark. Some common DA Photo errors include: baggy or tight uniforms; Incorrect spacing of badges, insignia, name plates, rank, and ribbons. Refer to the most current AR and DA PAM 670-1 to check regulatory guidelines.
The Officer Record Brief is a very important document, as it provides a snapshot of your entire career to the board members. Take the time to update your ORB before My Board File (MBF) closes. There are five main areas to focus on: ensure awards and decorations portion should be up-to-date and match your DA Photo and your AMHRR. The duty titles under the assignment section need to be current. Titles such as “incoming personnel”, “Known Loss”, and “over strength, excess, or surplus Soldier” should be changed. The duty title should match the actual position for that assignment and the associated evaluation. Height/weight discrepancies that occur between your ORB and evaluations are very noticeable to board members. Additionally, ensure your overseas and deployment data are up to date, and your Military & Civilian Education sections reflect the documentation in your AMHRR. There are several portions of the ORB that are masked to board members including dwell time, dependent data, marital status and religious preference since these sections should not affect a board member’s vote.
The goal is to present board members with an accurate and complete file. Officers should maintain communication with HRC and inform the correct office according to the MILPER regarding any file errors. The DA Secretariat website is a valuable resource for information concerning schedules, results, and regulations. The website also has a link to a mock board video for individual and unit training.
CPT(P) Abdullah H. Clark is a year group 2009 Infantry Officer and current Board Recorder at the Department of the Army Secretariat, Human Resources Command, and historian for the ROCKs Inc “Gold Vault” Chapter at Fort Knox Kentucky. He commanded C-Troop, 6-8 CAV, 2nd Brigade 3rd Infantry Division, and was recently selected for the 2019 Joint Chiefs of Staff Internship Program.
Photo credit: US Army HRC