Tuition assistance saved through Sept. 30

Tuition assistance was rescued by Congress after thousands of troops complained when most of the services suspended the popular education benefit as a cost-cutting move.

Under the 2013 federal spending bill passed March 21, the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps must restart their TA programs; the Navy, which never closed its program, is prohibited from dropping its benefits. TA must keep running through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

The legislation ordering TA to be reinstated covered only the Defense Department, according to congressional staffers. The Coast Guard, which also suspended its program, comes under the Homeland Security Department. However, Coast Guard officials said March 22 they also will revive TA through the rest of the fiscal year.

See the Army plan in this week’s Army Times, on sale now.

Europe: Only 30,000 troops will remain

The days of getting an assignment to many of Germany’s most storied posts are over. No more beer and wurst at Heidelberg, Schweinfurt or Mannheim and other spots long familiar to U.S. soldiers.

The Army is shrinking its footprint in Europe, moving as many as 10,000 soldiers and up to 25,000 dependents back to the U.S. and shuttering billions of dollars in facilities as part of a major overhaul of forces.

By 2015, the Army will have about 30,000 soldiers stationed at seven major installations in Europe — down from a post-Cold War high of more than 250,000 soldiers spread across 41 major garrisons. As the Army’s oldest and largest overseas command, U.S. Army Europe was home to nearly 12 million soldiers and families over 68 years.

Read all about the changes in Monday’s issue of Army Times.

OER changes: More detailed evals coming

A new officer evaluation system featuring separate reports and rating techniques for officers of different ranks is on track to be fielded with the Regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve in December.

The new Web-based system will call on junior leaders to rate their subordinates to an extent they never have before.

The Officer Evaluation Reports will be prepared and submitted electronically to Human Resources Command.

Under this second round of changes to a rating system that was last revised in 1997, the Army will introduce a rater profile technique similar to the inflation-dampening system now in effect for senior raters.

Details in the latest Army Times, on newsstands now.

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