USMA lengthens service obligation to 6 yrs??

boxmm24

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So... just found this article from July.


In true military fashion though, they have to study the heck out of it before they can make a change (report due NLT April), so it's very interesting that they seem to be "implemen-testing" it already. Not sure if there was anything about it in the latest Defense spending bill. Interesting times.
 
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USMA 1994

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The service commitment mandated by Congress for attendance at a service Academy is eight years. It has been that way for a long time and probably not changing anytime soon. If a MOC does not include that requirement for attendance at a service academy, they are misleading their constitutes. The admission's website says it. The Service Secretaries have the ability to adjust the balance between active and inactive service and that is changed for some applicants this year.

I will not debate the method the study was started or implemented but the decision makers are all above our pay grades. All we can do is to make sure our kids have the necessary information to make an informed decision. @davejean90 makes the point above, this additional year may change the way the Army manages officers in the upcoming years.
 

USMAGRAD1988

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My understanding is that individual service secretaries (Army, Navy, Air Force) have the power to extend the Active Duty Service Obligation (ADSO) up to 8 years without congressional approval. Anything beyond that has to go through Congress.
 

jl123

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My initial reaction is that the Army could not possibly do something that stupid.

This must be a typo. I would be shocked if they offered some appointments with a 5 year active duty obligation and others with a 6 year active duty obligation to the same incoming class, especially this late in the admissions process, with no prior notice.

However, the last time I said "the Army could not possibly do something that stupid" was when they allowed cadets to jump the order of merit list in branch selection using BRADSO and then not require them to incur the extra service obligation. Turned out I was wrong - the Army did do something that stupid.
 

user501

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I am so confused about this.

First of all, it doesn't make sense if West Point is doing this to test if people would be fine with a longer requirement. I am in AP Statistics this year, and there are ways to conduct this survey without confusing and misleading folks.

Second of all, it doesn't make sense if they are doing this to retain high potential candidates in service longer. Good candidates now can struggle at the academy, while lower achieving candidates can excel and become more valuable to the Army.
 

cptenca

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The Service Academy obligation is 8 years. How that 8 years is spent is at the convenience of the Army. 5 active 3 reserve, 6 active 2 reserve, 8 active, etc. you are signing up to be an Army Officer for 8 years. The Army is investing a large amount of precious resources on $ you and they expect a return on that investment. If that is a hard truth for you or your parents then a “free” education at USMA may not be for you.

ETA: nothing magical happens at the 5or 6 year mark that automatically transfers you into the IRR. You have to apply and the Army has to approve.
Look at your letter that says “5 years”. Seems like people are skipping over the words right in front of it that say “at least”.
 
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Holden100

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So... just found this article from July.


In true military fashion though, they have to study the heck out of it before they can make a change (report due NLT April), so it's very interesting that they seem to be "implemen-testing" it already. Not sure if there was anything about it in the latest Defense spending bill. Interesting times.
Thank you for posting this - I read it a few months ago and was surprised I hadn't seen anything about this on the forums, yet (or maybe I just missed it).
 

justdoit19

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Whoa! I feel like this is big news!

Another piece of it is the “marketing “ piece. For example, our MOC’s have on their Nomination pages the usual stuff about applying : ‘the best and the brightest, fully funded education, blah blah blah....IN EXCHANGE FOR 5 yrs of service upon commissioning’. That 5 years is posted everywhere.

Very interesting. I’m with those above that this seems ‘shady’ Also no problem with 6 years personally. But to just slip it in there, when it’s both generally understood and (at least in our case) printed that one is applying with a 5 year commitment? That’s not right. And to have it be a random (or pre-selected) appointee, vs everyone? Wow.

How many FFR/ROO’s (I’m usna, are these the correct terms?) maybe even SAY 5 years in their convo’s?

Curious what our forum “elders” think of this.

And YES, kuddos to OP for reading the fine print!
Adding: double checked MOC application, no service requirement listed that I could find. Either it’s been updated since 3 years ago or I was mistaken. Probably the later!!

Interesting discussion.
 
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jl123

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The service obligation is currently 5 years active duty, 3 years IRR (basically nothing more than keeping your contact information updated). That can be altered by policy change after going through all channels and approvals, an exhaustive process.

It has long been established that the military can extend the active duty portion with little notice in the event of a critical situation, not on the whim of administrators. Such a situation did exist for a few years after 9/11 and for a short time during the first Gulf War, but has rarely existed in the post-Vietnam era and not for at least the past 10 years.
 

txfwindian

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i think the frustration is due to lack of
1. clarity: what is the criteria? Why random? Is it fair ?
2. prior communication: It's the last minute communication in the appointment letter. I am sure if the academy stated on their website, media communication that AD may vary between 5-8 years, very few people (if any) would opt out. The last i checked, it still states 5 years AD..
 

VelveteenR

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A version of this happened to all cadets who branched Cyber in the class of 2019. Just prior to Branch Night, they were informed that the service commitment was upped from five to six years. I didn't hear that any cadets who wanted the branch backed out due to the extension. It is what it is, but it seemed rather arbitrary to me that if our son had just been in the previous class, he would have had a shorter commitment. His opinion was that he signed up to serve and an extra year made zero difference in the scheme of things. At their young age, I'd have to agree.

ETA: From the article linked above:

“Recent studies suggest service academy graduates have lower junior officer retention rates than other officer commissioning sources," lawmakers added. "Meanwhile, the increasingly technical nature of officer careers results in new officers spending less time at their first duty stations due to lengthier, more demanding, initial skills training courses.”
The low retention rate for the first Cyber graduating class (2014) that met their five-year service commitment in 2019 was partly what drove Cyber Command to make this decision as 63% of that class did the five-and-dive, and Cyber BOLC is 11 months long so, basically, after four years of service more than half of those highly trained officers left for (much) better civilian opportunities. The Army is trying to figure out how to retain these officers who have little incentive to stay when the market eventually beckons. Increasing the service commitment is one way to make up for the lengthy BOLC but does not address long-term retention.
 
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parentalunit2

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Wow. So this is new and interesting.

I lived at West Point for years, so I fully understand both "needs of the army" and "life isn't always fair". I just hope the academy's 'random' selection for the 6-year commitment doesn't contain too many minorities. My *very* first thought was the lawsuit that would not be at all difficult to design. And I wonder how many people hit that Accept button not realizing what they just agreed to! It will be interesting to see what happens here.
 

campcmom

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My DS got his appointment letter yesterday too and it said 6 years active duty. He also got one to USAFA and it said 5 unless he goes pilot and then it is 8. All in all, the 8 year requirement is correct, but it doesn't all have to be active duty, only the portion you agree to by accepting the offer (and future job if it incurs additional AD service). Not sure why some say 5 and some 6. My DS did have an LOA from WP, but not from USAFA.
 

Holden100

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A version of this happened to all cadets who branched Cyber in the class of 2019. Just prior to Branch Night, they were informed that the service commitment was upped from five to six years. I didn't hear that any cadets who wanted the branch backed out due to the extension. It is what it is, but it seemed rather arbitrary to me that if our son had just been in the previous class, he would have had a shorter commitment. His opinion was that he signed up to serve and an extra year made zero difference in the scheme of things. At their young age, I'd have to agree.

ETA: From the article linked above:



The low retention rate for the first Cyber graduating class (2014) that met their five-year service commitment in 2019 was partly what drove this decision as 63% of that class did the five-and-dive, and Cyber BOLC is 11 months long so, basically, after four years of service more than half of those highly trained officers left for (much) better civilian opportunities. The Army is trying to figure out how to retain these officers who have little incentive to stay when the market eventually beckons. Increasing the service commitment is one way to make up for the lengthy BOLC but does not address long-term retention.
I was wondering if this had something to do with the Cyber unit. Curious if the recent appointees who received the notification of 6 years had indicated he/she would be pursuing a CS or technology major either in their app or in the interview with their FFR (which is now required)?
 

cptenca

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. All in all, the 8 year requirement is correct, but it doesn't all have to be active duty, only the portion you agree to by accepting the offer (and future job if it incurs additional AD service)
That is not correct. The active portion is at the convenience of the government.
 

billyb

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Welcome to the Army folks! What are you going to say when your 5 (or 6) years is up and the Army is in stop-loss? What are you going to say when your wedding was planned for 2 years, but a deployment comes up? What are you going to say when things aren't fair in the Army? Might as well get used to it. Doesn't happen all the time, but it does happen and if you can't roll with the punches then the big green machine is going to be a long tough road for you. This isn't IBM and if you don't like it you walk across the street and get a job with Cisco.
 

Walman888

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Welcome to the Army folks! What are you going to say when your 5 (or 6) years is up and the Army is in stop-loss? What are you going to say when your wedding was planned for 2 years, but a deployment comes up? What are you going to say when things aren't fair in the Army? Might as well get used to it. Doesn't happen all the time, but it does happen and if you can't roll with the punches then the big green machine is going to be a long tough road for you. This isn't IBM and if you don't like it you walk across the street and get a job with Cisco.
Reality check indeed.
 

justdoit19

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I would complete expect this in the service. For any branch.

IG it is indeed a reality check! The SA’s are a different thing: not quite college, not quite service. We probably overlook this reality of this in this schooling part of the journey. It’s a bumpy ride!!
 

jl123

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I was wondering if this had something to do with the Cyber unit. Curious if the recent appointees who received the notification of 6 years had indicated he/she would be pursuing a CS or technology major either in their app or in the interview with their FFR (which is now required)?
Not likely - there is no need to get the extra commitment upfront. There is no shortage of cadets willing to commit to the additional obligation for Cyber or even Aviation.

This year Cyber allocations were 40 slots. It's a long way from admissions to branching and impossible for admissions to identify the small number of cadets who might qualify and be selected for Cyber.
 
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