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05 May 03. The U.S. Army announced May 5 that it will use the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate) as the first unit to use unit manning personnel polices instead of the current personnel system of individual replacements.

The 172nd, based at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, will use the Unit Manning Initiative as it becomes the third Army unit to transform into a Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

“The Unit Manning Initiative is about building higher levels of unit readiness,” said Lt. Col. Paul Thornton, unit manning action officer. “With the current individual replacement system, you constantly have new people come into the unit as others leave on a monthly basis — requiring constant retraining of individual and collective tasks to get the new soldiers up to speed.

“Under the Unit Manning Initiative, you will have groups of people who will arrive together at unit and train together day-to-day through a standard 36-month tour.”

G-1 officials have identified about 175 personnel policies and procedures that may be improved to support the initiative and lessen personnel turbulence.

Those officials are looking at everything from how a soldier enlists, gets initial and follow-on training, reenlists, earns promotions and gets assignments, Thornton said.

Total Army Personnel Command and G-1 officials are currently reviewing which 172nd soldiers can stay with the unit through its Stryker Brigade transformation. Selected soldiers will be offered the opportunity to extend their tour with the 172nd. Incentives to extend include bonuses under the Foreign Service Tour Extension Policy as Alaska is considered to be outside of the continental United States.

The idea is to have only a small number of managed personnel losses in 2004 when the brigade is scheduled to receive the Stryker vehicles and in 2005 when it undergoes initial operating capability testing, Thornton said. Replacement “packages” of soldiers on an annual basis will sustain 172nd unit strength after 2005.

The first personnel package will head to the 172nd next year to augment soldiers who extend their tours.

Lessons learned from the Unit Manning Initiative in the 172nd will be used to formulate personnel polices for brigade-level Unit of Action envisioned by planners of the Army’s future Objective Force, Thornton said.

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