Beginning in early January, Fort Knox will play a new and important role in how the U.S. Army identifies and selects future battalion commanders.
The post has been selected for the Battalion Commander Assessment Program, a new five-day course geared at moving forward the best-of-the-best of Army officers on the Lieutenant Colonel Centralized Selection List in their pursuit of battalion command.
About 800 officers on the Army’s list of potential principal and alternate command leader will attend BCAP annually on post at Fort Knox from Jan. 15 to Feb. 9. Some 150 or so Army leaders and cadre will relocate to Fort Knox in support of the program.
The program is part of a larger strategic shift prioritized by Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville to move beyond what he characterized in November as the Army’s “industrial age” personnel management practices, a system of promotion and leadership assignment based on seniority.
“Right now, we spend more time and more money on selecting a private to be in the Ranger Regiment than we do on selecting what I would argue is one of the most consequential leadership positions in the Army, our battalion commanders,” McConville said.
Maj. Gen. John Evans Jr., commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, praised the Army’s decision in selecting the local post for the program. He believes as the home of U.S. Army Cadet Command and U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Fort Knox is ideal for this program.
“It’s literally our daily business here to produce future Army leaders and select existing leaders for the right command positions,” Evans said.
Success with the program will be important for the Army for a number of reasons.
While the candidates’ file of performance and career achievements will continue to be part of the selection process, new physical, verbal, written, cognitive and non-cognitive assessments will combine with interview sessions by behavioral psychologists and panels of senior Army officers to more fully equip promotion decision-makers to understand the candidate’s total skill set.
Sometimes hidden in past practices, potential success derailers will be more easily identified through the expanded program.
Better command promotion decisions with more well-rounded and better qualified and equipped lieutenant colonels provides stronger leadership for other officers and NCOs under their command, improving retention and fostering other future leaders.
The program is equally important to the future of Fort Knox, too.
Moving more of the Army’s future command leadership ranks through skill development and leadership training programs at Fort Knox results in hundreds of future mission placement decision-makers and influencers with a firsthand familiarity of the post’s key attributes.
Chief among these are Fort Knox’s world-class 360-degree live-fire ranges and training areas; fully instrumented C-130 capable airfield, energy resilience and ability to produce more energy and water than it consumes, state-of-the-art physical and cyber security, modern facilities, buildable acreage and central location within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population.
More Army commanders and top leadership with firsthand knowledge of what Knox has to offer strengthens the post’s position for new and expanded missions.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.