U.S. Army soldier uniform

U.S. Army soldier uniform Christopher Stache / AFP

The Army Can Predict When Some Leaders Are at Risk of Misconduct

And they’re using targeted counseling to intervene before those high-risk periods begin.

The U.S. Army has figured out when command sergeant majors are at risk of losing focus or even going bad—and has successfully used counseling to reduce instances of undesirable behavior, its top enlisted leader said Wednesday.

“We’ve identified some points where our sergeant majors look like they’re in a danger zone,” Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston said at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. 

Grinston showed a slide with  “danger zones” marked in red: three months into a command sergeant major’s tour, one year in, and when he or she has just two months left.

“At those points, they’re at a high risk of investigation. Our goal is to prevent those types of things from happening using targeted counseling,” he said. 

And the Army has been successful, Grinston said. Because counseling for command sergeant majors is now required after they have served 10 or 11 months, misconduct has trended downward for three years.

The Army aimed to help these leaders before they’d been in their jobs for a year,  when data shows the highest spike in instances of misconduct among command sergeant majors. 

“At the one-year mark, you’re at a point where you think you’ve got it, but you don’t. You’re getting comfortable where you’re at, but you need to continue to grow. You think you’ve arrived, but you still have a lot to learn,” Grinston said. 

He said the targeted counseling strategy aims to lower instances of misconduct, but also provide the best command culture possible. 

“It’s all about making sure that we provide you the absolute best leaders we have in the United States Army,” Grinston said.

The success of targeted counseling was just one of a slew of announcements Grinston made at AUSA this week with the goal of focusing on “people first” and retaining every soldier the Army is working so hard to recruit

Among the initiatives most popular with soldiers was an app that leaders could download to personal devices with a suite of tools that could track the deployability of soldiers, conduct formal counselings, and manage a large range of varying scheduling obstacles. 

The SMA also announced that soldiers who score above 540 on the Army Combat Fitness Test might soon be exempt from the controversial height-and-weight evaluation. This announcement received an immediate round of applause.