The Army Qualitative Retention Board (QRB): What You Should Know

So, you just received a memorandum that you meet the criteria for review by the Army Qualitative Retention Board? We feel your anxiety and stress. The first thing I must say is congratulations, you have served at least 20-years for your country. Be proud, and do not allow the stress of a QRB dictate your life.

In today’s post, we are going to examine the Army Qualitative Retention Board (QRB) and what you should know about it. Our goal is to help you be prepared and know what to expect in the weeks and months to come.

army qualitative retention board

What the QRB is

Any Soldiers who have served in the United States Army National Guard or Army Reserve for 20 or more years must be reviewed every 2-years for retention potential. The objective is to determine acceptability for reenlistment or extending enlistment. The National Guard and Army Reserve want to guarantee that the most qualified Soldiers are retained beyond the 20-year mark.

Many Soldiers who have lasted for 20-years have the intention of staying until their mandatory retirement date. The Army National Guard or Army Reserve has been a great extra income, and it is understandable that a person would want to stay.

According to the Army’s HRC website:

The QMP was established to ensure Regular Army and U.S. Army Reserve Active Guard/Reserve (USAR AGR) noncommissioned officers in the rank of SSG through CSM serve in a manner consistent with good order and discipline, and that those serving in positions of authority perform in an exemplary manner.  It is appropriate to have policy designed to enhance the quality of the force. Such policy stresses the importance of the U.S. Army NCO Corps by ensuring only NCOs who consistently maintain high standards of performance, efficiency, morality, and professionalism are permitted to continue serving on active duty.

The QMP is designed to deny senior noncommissioned officers continued service on qualitative grounds and is not intended to, nor does it relieve commanders of their responsibility to take appropriate action against senior NCOs who clearly, in the best interest of the Army, do not meet retention standards for continued service. ~ Source: HRC website

Before the QRB

Before your Army Qualitative Retention Board, you should make sure your personnel files (ORB/2-1) are completely up-to-date. Any, and all educational courses need to be in your ORB. You will also want to review your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) and make sure it is completely accurate.

What else can you do to help guarantee your retention? Let me be blunt without sounding like a donkey (to use a decent term).

Not much, because you should have been considering the QRB a long before this time. The Army National Guard and Army Reserve are businesses and run accordingly. They are going to retain those Soldiers who still have something to offer. If you are just doing the very minimum, you may have reason to be anxious and worried.

For those Soldiers who are seeking out and volunteering for challenging assignments, have upstanding evaluation reports, have consistently good APFT scores, and meet and/or exceed civilian and military education objectives, they typically have nothing to worry about.

To help your cause, you could get a few letters of recommendation for your company commander or battalion commander, or even from your NCO Support Channel. Another good thing to do is to write a letter (memorandum) to the president of the board to state why YOU think you should be retained. These endorsements won’t guarantee you survive the board, but they will definitely help your cause.

Soldiers That Will Not Be Considered

No Soldier in any of the following conditions will be considered in a Qualitative Retention Board:

  • Hasn’t completed 20-years of qualifying service for non-regular retirement pay before the board date.
  • Is subject to QMP (Qualitative Management Program) screening.
  • Is within 9-months of reaching the age of 60.
  • Is a Reserve or Guard Military Technician who has been retained to serve in the Military Technician assignment.
  • Has a bar to reenlistment.
  • Was promoted to their current grade less than 1-year before the board convening.
  • If the Soldier is under favorable personnel actions suspension unless the suspension is for failure to pass the APFT or meeting body fat standards.

size of army reserve

Final Thoughts

I must state here and now that the Army National Guard and Army Reserve always need quality Soldiers. If you have more to offer the service, you really should not worry about the Qualitative Retention Board.

Also, keep in mind that retirement is not a bad thing either. If the National Guard or Army Reserve decides not to retain you, you now have the ability to use all you have learned from the military in the civilian world. In many cases, the education and experience a person has received in the military can lead to some very lucrative jobs in the civilian world.

We would love to hear from some of you who have faced the QRB recently. What advice would you give someone who has been given a memorandum that they are on the list? What steps did you take to help be retained?

I also want to mention to everyone reading this who have some years before their 20-year mark comes along. Keep the QRB in front of you and strive to ensure your records shine so you can be retained. Go the extra mile and do what you can to stand out in the crowd. To all of you who have given 20+ years of service…thank you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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19 thoughts on “The Army Qualitative Retention Board (QRB): What You Should Know”

  1. Danielle Lamy

    I am up for the board. I have a few missing years that I’ve been trying to track, would this be looked upon as a negative. Could this be a factor of not being retained?

    1. To the best of my knowledge, you would be good to go, and would no go before the QRB. I would still sit down with your S1 or Readiness NCO and verify this information is correct.

  2. How adversely would one bad NCOER effect QRB? I had a new Platoon Sergeant come in she wrote my annual while only being in the platoon 3 months and only did 2 counselings. She dislikes me because I command more respect from the platoon then she does. Thus, she has written a NCOER that reflects on me a declining ability to lead, and has lost the trust of my subordinates and peers.

    1. Hi Marc,

      Sorry to hear about the bad NCOER. Did you appeal it or attempt to have it thrown out? Was this a recent NCOER or one from several years back? Assuming you have had several good NCOERs since then, I’m not sure if you should be 100% worried. I would also consider getting a letter of recommendation from your company and battalion commanders. That could help. Also, I’d write a letter on why you want to be retained. Anything extra you can add to your packet would be beneficial.


    1. I know this thread is old, but I want you to understand you do not have a contract you have an extension of your original contract (eight year obligation). So yes, they can terminate you. Do all the things you need to do before you get to 20-years and you will survive. I have made it through three of these so far and heading into my forth now.

      1. That’s some great advice, Gary. Don’t wait until the last minute. Be proactive. And thanks for clarifying that they can terminate you after your initial eight year obligation, even if you are still in your current contract.

  3. I currently serve on title 32 AGR status. I just received a letter about the QRB. I have 27 total years but only 14 AFS. My military schools, civilian education, PT, and NCOERs are all good. I have 3 deployments to austere environments, but I’m still nervous. What is the likely outcome? I need the next 6 years for regular retirement. I currently serve as S1. This is the first time since I’ve been on orders, but again it’s everyone with 20-years whether active federal or not.

    Do they have to retain you and allow you to get your retirement ? If not, is there severance pay? I can’t get a good answer in this one.

    1. Just getting caught up on comments after all these years. What did you find out about your QRB? Were you retained? What lessons did you learn that you could share with others on this website? I hope it went well for you.

  4. I went through this a few years ago even as a CSM and the information here is on point.

    You don’t fix issues after notification for poor career decisions. What you do need to do is ensure your records are correct and up to date.

    The QRB notification will tell you everything that needs to be provided. Make sure your ERB/ORB is 100% correct and matches what is in your OMPF.

    Currently physical fitness has heavy weight but nothing is more important than your assignments and performance evaluations. Update your DA Photo! If you submit a jacked up packet chances are you are going home even if you have done the tough jobs. The packet isn’t hard to put together and you will have plenty of time to do it.

    You should have an I LOVE ME book with all your important information, never give anyone your last copy. Then make sure its in your OMPF.

    Lastly, once you are over 20-years you will repeat this process every few years until you retire, if you are retained, so pay attention to the comments from the board on your review. If they tell you to complete a school DO IT or improve an area DO IT, as they will see your last QRB comments with your current QRB.

    CSM McRae

    1. Yes, it pays to be informed. Many Soldiers wait until the last minute. In my opinion, that’s too late. Once you get to year 18 or 19, you should start to make sure everything is in order. You want to separate yourself from the masses and be near the “top” of the pack.

      This topic would also be a great NCODP for everyone at the rank of SSG or higher. Some people just don’t know what they don’t know. Knowledge is key.

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