Insider Tips About the DA Board Selection Process: What the Board Sees…

After sitting on several boards over the past few years, I have come to the conclusion that we, as leaders, must work much harder to help our soldiers prepare their records to be reviewed by a board panel.

The basic criteria that are used for many boards are:

–  Appearance and Fitness – Within this category the board will look at your DA Photo. Sounds simple right, well… When we look at the photo, we are looking for a few things. We look to see what your overall appearance is… Do you look like you are fit? Do your awards match your iPERMS? How old is the photo? Are you wearing the uniform in accordance with the regulation (is your rank on right?, are your awards in proper order?) During the review of the photo, the board member will notice the type of uniform worn for the photo. The wear-out date for the Class A uniform has been published for several years. Soldiers should be wearing the new uniform in these photos if it has been issued.  Officers are recommended to purchase this uniform now and set the example. The Army Service Uniform becomes the only authorized Class A and B uniform on 1 October 2014. It is expected that all officers will be in the new uniform. (Remember you want to set yourself apart from your peers if possible, wearing the new uniform is an easy way to show that you are proactive and want to be best in appearance.) Then we look at your fitness by reviewing your APFT record and Weight Control record. At this point, we try to determine… Are you setting the example for other soldiers to follow, or are you marginal? While the passing score for an APFT is 60 points, is that the example you want all of your soldiers to be performing to? Are you just getting by on your weigh-in and taping? Have you had compliance issues with either APFT or weight control over the past three years?

–  Assignments and Evaluations – During this portion, we look at the type of assignments a Soldier has been assigned to and the evaluation associated with the assignment. The board looks strongly at how the rater and senior have characterized the performance and potential of the Soldier.  The board member will also look at leadership assignments and how the Soldier performed. The board member looks for comments that reflect potential to serve at the next grade and in what type of assignments. If the Soldier wants to be a Commander and the evaluations are focused on future assignments as a staff officer, then it is unlikely the board will make a favorable recommendation for Command.

–  Education – The Board looks at the military and civilian education profile of the Soldier. Having the minimum education necessary to be promoted should not be the standard. Soldiers must look towards their next assignment and how they can improve their standing among their peers. The board member will review 1059s to see how the Soldier performed and if they passed the course with distinction.

–  ORB/ERB vs. the biographical sketch – During this review, the board member will look at several things. The ORB/ERB shows a snapshot of the Soldier. You can see assignment history, education, overseas duty and awards. Often, the board member will re-look at the photo to see if the awards on the record are on the uniform.

–  Letter to the Board – This is a very important part of the board packet. The letter is the opportunity for the Soldier to illuminate reasons for missing parts of the packet and to share other information that is missing from the packet or the iPERMS.

The areas identified above are an important part of a military career.  Soldiers must understand the importance of their military record.

Writing evaluations on your Soldiers is a critical part of a leader’s responsibilities. Take this responsibility seriously.  During all periods of performance, take time to document what your subordinates are doing and how they are performing. By taking time on a regular basis, you will find it much easier to prepare awards, developmental counseling forms and evaluations.

About the Author: Colonel Smith has served in the military for 33 years and is currently a Brigade Commander in the Arizona Army National Guard. He is a graduate of the National War College and has completed assignments as a Battalion Commander, Brigade S3, Battalion S1, S4, two separate Company Commands, and Platoon Leader.  Colonel Smith has been stationed or served at Ft Jackson, Ft Carson, Ft Huachuca, Ft Irwin, Ft Lewis, Ft Meade, Ft McNair, Camp Red Cloud, LSA Anaconda (Iraq), Almaty-Kazakhstan, Silverbell Army Heliport, and Papago Park Military Reservation.  Colonel Smith is a military technician GS-14 (Deputy Chief of Staff-Logistics), and a Professor with DeVry University where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Risk Analysis, Loss Prevention, and Emergency Planning. He is married, has four children and enjoys playing golf.

5 thoughts on “Insider Tips About the DA Board Selection Process: What the Board Sees…”

  1. Your soldiers’ appearance is a direct reflection on you as a leader, like it or not! You should instill in your soldiers the affect that their appearance has on everything that they do, including their ambitions. A soldier should be thinking two steps ahead when it comes to the board selection process. What they hope to achieve and if they are prepared. They should have a leader committed to their success and growth in their career. Take advantage of all the opportunities available, including education.

  2. What comes to mind in this post is: first impressions count. A soldier’s appearance in their picture will be one of the top judgement calls by the DA Board. Is it fair? Probably not; but knowing this, you should be prepared and have the proper uniform with everything in its proper place. I also agree with Chuck. Have a NCO you trust look it over with their critique and suggestions. It just makes good sense.

  3. These are really some great insider tips about the DA Selection Process. I always tell Soldiers that no one else cares about your career as much as you do. Whether you are up for a promotion board, a command board, retention board, or any other type of board, it is in your best interest to be prepared. Review all of your documents closely and make sure everything is accurate and updated.

    I suggest you start the preparation process 30 to 60 days before you packet is due so you have time to identify and fix mistakes. It’s also a good idea to sit down with your S1 and a trusted superior NCO or Officer and have them review things, just for a fresh set of eyes.

    I also recommend that unit leaders teach their subordinates the ropes of the DA Selection Board process. Everyone needs to know how to prepare their packet and do what they can do to have an “advantage” or “slight edge” over their peers.

    Just my two cents.


  4. Sir,

    When reviewing the Education aspect of a Soldier, do you ever take into account what their civilian degree and occupation are with respect to what their capacity is military wise? For example, maybe you have two Soldiers who look pretty identical in other aspects but one has a degree in Engineering and works in that field and the other is a Corrections Officer and holds a Criminal Justice degree. Would you ever conclude that one’s civilian occupation was a justification for advancement or does it not weigh in that much…? Thanks, Sir!

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