Reserve Officer Personnel Management Act (ROPMA)

An online briefing as part of the Officer Development Program (ODP). There are some areas of interest here to most Army National Guard officers, but this is mostly pertinent to officers in an Infantry Battalion.


ROPMA is new officer policy that will directly affect your professional military career. It comes into policy 01 Oct 96. I have not covered all the provisions of ROPMA here. I am trying to cover the main areas that pertain to our officers mainly at the 01/2LT and 02/1LT level. Specific smaller details can be researched later. Here is where ROPMA and you meet, this is called reality.

First comes the advice. You basically need to give attention to your military and civilian education. It sets guidelines for promotion selection timelines, determines who is selected for promotion and who is not, and bases selection on "best qualified" standards not merely "fully qualified".

Here is the hardcore advice. Once everyone has their officer basic course out-of-the-way. Do the following in order:

1) Records. Take a look at your microfiche. You can get a copy of that by faxing a request to the official records office at phone number (703) 607-9102 and fax 8546. You will check promotions, awards, OERs, etc. There is a process to update the information on the microfiche. There is a microfiche reader in the Bn personnel section. The microfiche will be the first thing that the promotion board will look at when you are up for selection.

 2) Bachelors. Get your 4-year degree done as soon as possible if you have not already. At least be making progress on a regular basis. Take advantage of the educational benefits provided by the Army National Guard and the State as well as the Station officer's association. If you don't have your bachelors you will never be promoted past 02/1LT. Remember also that you can numerous credits for Army training.

 3) Advanced Course. As soon as you finish your officer basic course, sign-up for an advanced course. You do not have to wait until you are promoted to 02/1LT. All advanced courses are two phase, phase I being correspondance and phase II being resident and usually 2-weeks. Try to do at least one correspondance course book a week. Really do the coursework, don't cheat yourself and get the answers from someone else. You cannot attend the resident phase or even apply for a school date until you have completed the correspondance and received confirmation. Also, don't count on being able to attend an active-duty advanced course. If you can do that it would be nice, but sign-up for the correspondance just in case. The most imporant note here is that the advanced course is required for company command.

 4a) Masters. Always stay in the school mode, I was taking graduate courses at least one a semester until I took command, I stopped because of the extra demand on my time. Get your Masters Degree to move you up the promotion list in regards to being the best qualified. Right now it is not a requirement for any grade but may become a requirement in the future for 04/MAJ or 05/LTC.

 4b) CAS3. Combined Arms Services Staff School. Only after completion of your officer's advanced course. At the same time you are working on your Masters degree, sign-up for the CAS3 correspondance phase. Just like the advanced course, there is also a resident phase. Sometimes the whole course is offered at Fort Belvoir at night, one night a week, or on extra weekends. This is your next real military education requirement, you must have completed this to be promoted to 04/MAJ. Get it out-of-the-way.

 If you attain all the above before promotion to Captain, I would place a large monetary wager on your being selected for promotion. Yes there are schools and requirements after that such as Command and General Staff College, but that doesn't come into play for an ODP until you hit Major.


The main provision of ROPMA that will affect you is the area of promotion selection. Your promotion packet will go forward for selection somewhere between your minimum time in grade (TIG) and the mandatory TIG for selection. These are explained below and in further sections. You need to worry about getting qualified for promotion and being the best qualified keeping the timelines for TIG in mind.


For all officer promotion packets, the point of contact is the Bn PAC (personnel action center).

From 01/2LT to 02/1LT
This promotion will take place after 2-years of commissioned service, the minimum time in grade and the mandatory time in grade for promotion board selection. The paperwork will be forwarded 90 days prior to the officer's 2-year mark. This promotion had previously taken place only after 3 years of service. Right now, if an 01/2LT has completed 2-years of commissioned service, his/her promotion packet must be forwarded immediately. The only real way to be found not qualified for promotion to 02/1LT is to not have completed your officer basic course. There are some other more obscure reasons not really applicable here. If you are not qualified for promotion after 2-years, you have from 6 to 18 months from the 2-year time-in-grade date to become qualified. After that time, the officer will be separated.

From 02/1LT to 03/CPT
The minimum time in grade is 2-years. The mandatory time in grade for promotion board selection is 5 years. Your records must be sent forward for the 5-year selection board. You should have completed your advanced course, not a requirement, but makes you much more competitive. You must have completed your bachelor's degree.

From 03/CPT to 04/MAJ
The minimum time in grade is 4-years. The mandatory time in grade for promotion board selection is 7 years. Your records must be sent forward for the 7-year selection board. You are required to have completed your advanced course and CAS3. You should have completed your master degree, not a requirement, but makes you much more competitive. You must have also completed CAS3.


You can have your records sent forward after you attain the minimum time in grade (TIG). Your records must go forward at the mandatory time in grade. You cannot be promoted prior to TIG, even if you are in a higher grade slot. You may want your records sent forward for selection earlier than the mandatory time in grade, this would mainly be in the instance that you are in a slot for the next higher grade. For instance, you are an 02/1LT, with 3-years of service, graduated from your officers advanced course, and you know you will soon be in an 03/CPT slot. You would want to be selected for promotion so your promotion packet should be completed. Another example might be that you have met all the requirements for selection, you are a company XO, and you think you will be offered an 03/CPT position within one to three years. You could have your promotion packet sent forward for possible selection. But you may have to obtain a delay of promotion and are gambling on having to take one non-selection as explained in the delay of promotion section below.


Once selected for promotion, you only have three years to find a slot. To get the three years, you must be approved for a delay of promotion. At the end of three years you must find a slot, transfer to the IRR, or be categorized as non-selected. If categorized as non-selected you must then go before the selection board again. If you then are selected for promotion again, you only can delay promotion for one year. If you cannot find a slot after that year, you are again considered to be non-selected. If you have been non-selected for two times, you are to be separated.


Your records must be sent before the selection board after the mandatory promotion TIG. You will only be separated from service if you have been non-selected for promotion for a second time. The worst case would usually be where you as an 02/1LT are non-selected twice in a row. The other more normal case might be where you have been selected and then received a delay for three years and then had to take one non-selection since you did not find a 03/CPT slot. Then you basically have one more year after you are selected again to find a slot. If you are due to be separated, you may be selected for continuation by a board, stay at your current grade forever. But that is supposedly not going to be easy.


It has always been a problem, and will continue to be a problem under ROPMA, that an officer is eligible for promotion and has been selected for promotion but no slot exists at a higher grade. The usual example is 02/1LT to 03/CPT and finding or being assigned to a 03/CPT slot. There is one sure-fire way to solve this problem. You can be transferred into the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and usually receive an almost automatic promotion. This is usually a last resort since it is not easy to get back into the Bn, the Bde, or the Guard, from the Reserves.


Obviously most of us wish to be promoted to 03/CPT soon after we are lucky enough to receive a company command. But that is not nearly always the case. Often times you may find yourself on Bn or Bde staff before being assigned to a company command. Within the Bn there are several 03/CPT slots that you could occupy other than as a company commander. There is the signal officer slot (which requires branch training after 2-years in the slot), the assistant S3 (operations) Air slot, S1 (personnel) and S4 (logistics) slots. The S2 slot is for Military Intelligence (MI) officers only, or officers that have completed the branch transition course for MI. There are also some slots in the Bde that can be occupied by an 03/CPT.


OERs. These will mean more than before, keep close tabs on your major accomplishments during the training year. If you don't remember something fantastic that you accomplished, your rater probably won't either. Don't shortchange yourself like that. Really sit down with your rater and work-up your OER support form and set realistic goals. As earlier, make sure your OERs make it onto your microfiche.

Important Dates. The most important date we are looking at is our date of rank (DOR), this is for TIG guidelines.

Official Photo. You will need one for promotion to 03/CPT or above. I recommend not having your official photo for promotion taken by a civilian studio. I had mine taken at Fort Meyer at a military office that specializes in official photos. They did an excellent job, they even tape down the bottom of your pants, your jacket, etc. They are also very informed on regulations in regards to what you can and cannot wear on your uniform for your official photo.

ROPMA Handbook. There is a handbook for 'personnel managers' on the subject of ROPMA.


The first major change in reserve officer management since 1954, ROPMA will impact appointments, promotions, separations and retirements. It does not apply to warrant officers. ROPMA's purpose is twofold: 1) Standardize reserve officer personnel management across the military; 2) Align the reserve system with that used in the active component.

TIG. Eliminates mandatory time-in-grade requirements for promotion. ROPMA, instead, sets minimum and mandatory TIG for each rank, with date-of-rank falling in-between.

RASL. Establishes a RASL for promotion selection, a reserve active status list (RASL). Officers in the ING are not on the RASL. Officers in the IRR are on the RASL. That is all you really need to know.

Retirement. Mainly, an officer must be in his current grade for six months to retire at that grade. This is true except for 05/LTC which must be in the grade for three years unless the officer retires due to maximum years of commissioned service, then the six month rule applies. For everyone below the rank of Brigadier General (BG), you are required to retire if you hit age 60. For most of us, we will have had to be promoted to at least 04/MAJ to retire. As an 04/MAJ, if you are not selected for promotion to 05/LTC, you must retire after 20-years of commissioned service. As an 05/LTC, you must retire after 28-years of commissioned service.


There are many other provisions under ROPMA that affect higher grades such as LTC and COL. There are provisions for IRR and Reservists transferring to the National Guard. There are AGR provisions. If you are interested, you can get the entire text, but there is much that does not directly concern you.


You could actually be assigned in an 03/CPT position even if you were still an 02/1LT and not selected for promotion. Remember, ROPMA is for selection in regards to promotions, not duty positions. It would be very unlikely though, for instance, for a non-selected 02/1LT to be assigned to a company commander slot. It might happen for a staff slot if the unit was really hurting. You would not be promoted though until selected.


Don't get too caught-up in getting promoted at the minimum TIG mark. Don't look at it as competing with your peer group. If you are in this Bn, it is because you have more of a unit-oriented outlook. That espirit-de-corps present in our Bn is part of what has driven our sucesses to this point. Don't drag both yourself and the unit down with overly self-serving personal goals. Obviously everyone wants to get promoted, I am not saying that you should stay a 02/1LT to better serve the needs of the unit. I am saying that you might want to stay in the 3/116th as a 02/1LT instead of taking an 03/CPT job somewhere else in a less 'strac' unit.


INTERNET. Visit the site and read more on ROPMA.


Get a copy of your microfiche as noted earlier. Look at your own promotion requirements, your timeline. Look at when you might be able to fit-in your officer advanced course and finish your bachelors. Ask any questions you may have. If there are any errors in my information, please keep me informed.