Network Optimization for Army

Topics: United States Army, United States Army Reserve, Brigade Pages: 17 (4931 words) Published: April 13, 2011
Vol. 35, No. 3, May–June 2005, pp. 230–237 issn 0092-2102 eissn 1526-551X 05 3503 0230


doi 10.1287/inte.1050.0137 © 2005 INFORMS

The US Army Uses a Network Optimization Model to Designate Career Fields for Officers Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel—G1, 300 Army Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301, Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado 80401,

Dan Shrimpton

Alexandra M. Newman

In 1999, the United States Army instituted a new career-progression pattern for its officers. This pattern assigns, or designates, Army officers to specialized roles in which they must serve. Such roles include, for example, foreign area officer and operations research analyst. Manually designating officers into these roles under the new system is impossible because the problem is very large. We developed a network-optimization model, the career-field designation model, that makes these designations in minutes on a personal computer. The US Army has used this system four times since June 2001 to designate a total of approximately 10,500 officers and expects to continue to use the model to designate about 1,500 officers each year. Key words: military: personnel; networks/graphs: applications. History: This paper was refereed.


he United States Army personnel system determines the way in which approximately 500,000 US soldiers in 100 countries are assigned to jobs, promoted, educated, trained, and separated from the Army. One of the system’s tasks is to match enough qualified soldiers to career tracks to meet staffing requirements. We developed a network-optimization model, the career-field designation (CFD) model, that aids the Army in assigning its 49,000 senior leaders (officers) to jobs. The Army assigns officers to many fields of specialization, for example, the infantry, which has a “ mission to close with the enemy by means of fire and movement to defeat or capture him,” and military intelligence, which has a mission to “ manage and direct all facets of intelligence planning and operations at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war” (United States Army 1998). An officer’s career typically lasts 20 to 30 years (Figure 1), during which he or she serves two to three years in each of various jobs, including postgraduate education. The battlefield is changing. In the future, combat will be “multi-dimensional, noncontiguous, and 230

simultaneous [because] the increasing potential of adversaries, coupled with access to accurate, real-time information, will produce a different operational environment” (United States Army 2001). To address the changing nature of warfare, the Army is reengineering its structure, doctrine, and weapons and has correspondingly developed a new method for advancing officers through their careers, which the Army calls a career-progression pattern. In 1999, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, personnel directed the United States Army’s Total Army Personnel Command (PERSCOM) to develop a program to match its officers with the new career-progression pattern. Under the officer professional management system prior to 1999, OPMS II, the Army assigned officers to one of 16 basic branches, or primary “muddy boots” career tracks, and the officers served in those basic branches for at least six years: infantry, armor, field artillery, air defense, aviation, special forces, engineers, military intelligence, military police, signal corps, adjutant general, finance, ordnance, transportation, quartermaster, and chemical corps. Then, the Army assigned each officer to a functional area (FA), or secondary career track, for a maximum of seven

Shrimpton and Newman: The US Army Uses a Network Optimization Model to Designate Career Fields for Officers Interfaces 35(3), pp. 230–237, © 2005 INFORMS


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