Army Unit to Evaluate New Sponsorship Program

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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The 21st Theater Sustainment Command is one of five units selected by the Department of the Army's personnel division to participate in a 180-day sponsorship test pilot program aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of the Total Army Sponsorship Program.

The objective of the test pilot program is to develop a process that will ensure the assignment of a sponsor prior to receiving permanent change of station orders for those in the ranks of colonel and below.

The pilot requires the 21st TSC to provide monthly Soldier sponsorship data and feedback directly to the Army's deputy chief of staff for personnel. Results could potentially lead to modifying the current TASP and enhance the Army's ability to sponsor, receive, and integrate newly arriving Soldiers and their families into their unit of assignment.

"The purpose of the current program is to make sure that as our Soldiers and families transition from one location to another, that there is someone there who can help them in their transition before they come and once they arrive as well," said Sgt. Maj. Bryan L. Novak, the human resources sergeant major for the 21st TSC and a Saint Paul, Minn., native.

Novak is overseeing the 21st TSC's effort in gathering and forwarding data during the six-month test program.

Initially, the 21st TSC submitted a report annotating the number of Soldiers identified for assignment instructions. There are currently approximately 500 Soldiers on orders to the 21st TSC, according to Novak.

The command must then annotate the number of assignment instructions issued to Soldiers in 30-day increments to capture if assignments instructions are issued with sufficient lead time to appoint sponsors.

The command will validate its own sponsorship program by recording the number of sponsors validated by the losing units in accordance with established timelines.

Lastly, the pilot data will track the number of orders published and distributed to the 21st TSC, regardless of when the Soldiers were placed on assignment instructions.

According to Novak, the vast 21st TSC's geographic footprint makes it an ideal unit for the test pilot program.

"I don't know why the 21st TSC was chosen to participate in the pilot program, but I can tell you that I think that we're probably one of the best units in the Army to test the program," said Novak. "The 21st TSC is in every community within Europe, so if you can do it right in the 21st then you can do it right anywhere."

The 21st TSC is the only sustainment unit in Europe and has nearly 11,000 Soldiers assigned to more than 15 different communities within U.S. Army Europe, to include Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.

According to Patrick E. Vestal, the chief of military personnel for Installation Management Command-Europe personnel division and a native of Longview, Texas, the overall goal of the pilot program is not only to make the quality of the sponsorship program better, but also to better link Soldiers and ensure that their transition to a new place is as smooth as possible.

"I think that this pilot is just to validate that the Army is doing a good job in sponsorship already and to see if there is anything else that can be done to make the program even better for Soldiers," said Novak.

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