“The service is shrinking its Reenlistment Opportunity Window (ROW) from fifteen months before a soldier’s contract expires to twelve. The ROW is exactly what it sounds like—the time a service member has to decide whether to continue serving in the military,” the report said.
“It makes it more simple,” Sgt. Maj. Tobey Whitney, the Army’s senior career counselor, told the site in an interview. “We looked at the analytics: The vast majority reenlisted way less than twelve months from [their contract expiring].” He added that using the twelve-month timetable could make things easier for soldiers, especially in knowing exactly how much time they have left.
However, the military.com site also found a memo showing that the change is only effective for one year, and could change a year from now. And that wasn’t the only change announced this week.
“In another change starting Friday, soldiers will no longer be offered so-called duty station ‘stabilization’ through contract extensions, which usually range from one to two years and allow soldiers to continue serving at their current installation,” military.com said. “Instead, soldiers will have to go through the reenlistment process.”
And the Army will be changing its Career Status Program, under which “midlevel noncommissioned officers can sign onto indefinite service, eliminating the regular reenlistment deadlines while still allowing soldiers to request a discharge or take a break from service.”
The Army explained the changes a bit on the Army.mil website.
“These changes are being made with the intent of increasing predictability for Soldiers and their families while also reducing turbulence within Army organizations,” Sgt. Maj. Tobey Whitney said on the site.
“We found through collected data that staff sergeant and above with more than ten years of service were required to reenlist at least twice to make it to retirement,” he added. “That doesn’t seem like a logical solution to keep Soldiers in the Army… We want to ensure that [qualified] Soldiers understand their eligibility for the Career Status Program… If Soldiers can just reenlist for an indefinite term of service, they can go and continue with their careers.”
“Before this suspension, a Soldier had to make the decision to re-enlist by the time they were ninety days away from completing their contract. If the Soldier changed their mind within this window, they were required to submit an exception to policy,” Army.mil reported in 2015.
“They still need to be a quality Soldier,” Sgt. Maj. Vickie Rivera, then the retention and reclassification sergeant major for the Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate at the Army Human Resources Command, said at the time. “What we see at our level is all the paperwork and the documentation. This suspension streamlines the procedure to be faster.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.