By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Dec. 14, 2011) -- Two changes made to a set of programs will make participation easier for officers wanting to expand their military careers with opportunities such as fellowships and scholarships.
Under the officer "Broadening Opportunity Program," or BOP, officers can apply to all programs they qualify for, instead of just one. Additionally, notification for acceptance into one of the programs will now come much earlier.
The Congressional Fellowship Program is one of eight opportunities that officers can now more easily apply for because of policy changes.
The BOP includes the Strategic Education and Development Program; the Army Regional Fellowships; the Olmsted Scholar Program; the Joint Chief of Staff, OSD, and DA Staff Internship Program; the Cyber Command Scholarship Program; the Downing Scholarship Program; the Congressional Fellowship Program; and the Arroyo Center Fellowship Program.
"These programs educate and mature the officer for the next battle," said Joel Strout, manager for the programs included in the BOP.
With current budget concerns, Strout said, officers who know how Congress works and who have had experience on Capitol Hill will be valuable to the Army. "The Army Congressional Fellowship Program can allow the officer that experience," he said.
One of the changes under BOP allows officers to apply for all programs for which they are qualified -- though they will be accepted to only one. Under the previous "Non-Military Education Level" program, as it was known, officers could apply to only one. The change, Strout said, gives interested officers "a better chance of being selected for a program."
Officers can apply for all of the BOP programs for which they are qualified, and rank their preference. Acceptance into one of the programs eliminates them from consideration for the other programs.
The second change that comes with BOP is that officers will learn by as early as mid-July if they have been accepted into one of the programs. In past years, under the non-MEL program, they might have had to wait until as late as December to find out if they were accepted.
"Notification is sent out much, much earlier to all the candidates and all the career managers, of who was selected and who wasn't," Strout said. "In previous years, selection boards were scattered."
The deadline for applying for the next series of BOP fellowships and scholarships is March 30, 2012. The selection boards for all those programs will meet during a two-week window in late June. Results will be available to applicants by mid-July. The earlier notification aligns better with the onset of the officer assignment cycle, Strout said.
"The earlier that we can tell the candidates they've made it or not, the earlier they can put their name in the hat for an assignment," Strout said.
Strout said the changes come as a result of Human Resources Command listening to officers who have in the past participated in the fellowships and scholarships that are now part of BOP.
"The HRC is listening," Strout said. "They said let's do it this year, let's do the pilot program. This is the very first time that we are allowing multiple programs at one time that a service member can apply for."
Six of the eight programs in the BOP are graduate degree programs," Strout said. Two of the eight programs provide Intermediate Level Education/Advanced Operations Course credit -- including both the Joint Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary Of Defense, and the Department Of the Army Staff Internship Program; and the Army Congressional Fellowship Program.
Programs that are part of the BOP include:
-- The Fiscal Year 2013/2014 Arroyo Center Fellowship: The 12-month program, open to majors or lieutenant colonels, is a research and study fellowship established at the Army's research and development center, the Rand Arroyo Center. The center supports the Army by studying topics related to the National Security Strategy and other issues of critical importance to the Army. (MILPER message 11-362)
-- The 2014 Army Congressional Fellowship Program: The 43-month program educates selected Army officers, senior noncommissioned officers and civilians on the importance of the strategic relationship between the Army and the Congress. The program includes pursuit of a master's degree in legislative affairs, service on the staff of a member of Congress, and utilization on the Army or joint staff in a congressional-related duty position. (MILPER message 11-363)
-- The Fiscal Year 2013 General Wayne A. Downing Scholarship Program: The 24-month program, open to active-duty captains and majors in the maneuver, fires and effects branches, provides participants the opportunity to study terrorism and counterterrorism at top-tier graduate schools. (MILPER message 11-364)
-- The Fiscal Year 2012/2013 U.S. Army Cyber Command Scholarship Program: The two-year program, followed by a three-year utilization assignment, is open to active-duty captains and majors in the maneuver, fires, and effects; operations support; and force sustainment branches. The program offers participants the opportunity to pursue a master's degree in cyber security at the University of Maryland. (MILPER message 11-365)
-- The Fiscal Year 2013 Joint Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary Of Defense, and the Department of the Army Staff Internship Program: The three-year program includes a Georgetown University master of policy management degree, an internship on the Joint Staff or with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and an internship within the Headquarters Department of the Army staff. (MILPER message 11-366)
-- The Fiscal Year 2013 Olmsted Scholar Program: The program, open to active-duty officers, provides participants the opportunity to achieve fluency in a foreign language while studying at the Defense Language Institute and then pursue graduate study at an overseas university. (MILPER message 11-367)
-- The Academic Year 2013/2014 Army Regional Fellowships -- LTC Level: Three separate programs provide an approximately year-long fellowship to participants at the Asia-Pacific Center in Hawaii; the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany; or the Department of State in Washington, D.C. Participants then do a two-year utilization tour immediately following their fellowships. (MILPER message 11-368)
-- Academic Year 2013/2014 HQDA G-3/5 Strategic Education and Development Program: This one-year program, open to active-duty and Army Reserve captains and majors, provides participants with a master's degree in public administration at Harvard University followed by a utilization tour within the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army G-3/5 and the Office of the Chief, Army Reserve (for Reserve officers only). (MILPER message 11-369)