Soldiers who have failed to qualify for their primary job skill will have to reclassify into a new job or be kicked out of the service, U.S. Army Human Resources Command officials said.

HRC issued a military personnel message in October to assist commanders in identifying enlisted soldiers who are not qualified in their primary military occupation specialty, or MOS.

"Commanders can't utilize their soldiers properly if they're not qualified in their MOS," James Bragg, chief of the HRC Retention and Reclassification Branch, said in a recent Army press release. "We're in the middle of a drawdown, and we can't afford to keep people in the Army who are not qualified in their MOS.”

Two of the major deficiencies HRC has identified are security clearances and language proficiencies, Bragg said.

HRC has identified several hundred soldiers in the active Army whose records indicate they do not have the clearance required in their MOS.

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The first priority for commanders is to correct any errors and report back if a soldier has the proper security clearance. If a clearance has lapsed, a soldier will have to take the necessary steps to get current again, HRC officials said.

But if a soldier’s clearance has been revoked or denied, commanders need to recommend whether the soldier should remain in the Army, Bragg said.

The issue affects readiness, he added, noting that the Army must ensure it is retaining only the most qualified people.

"If they need access to a certain facility based on security clearance and they can't get in there, they can't perform their duties,” Bragg said.  "In about 60 days from now, we're going to run those same soldiers through our query. Those who have been fixed will continue to stay in that MOS, and the other ones they should be either processing for reclassification or separation."

In addition, HRC has identified Army linguists who have not maintained their language proficiencies, Bragg said.

"These are our cryptological linguists who are required to interpret a foreign language," he said.

Linguists have to take a proficiency test every year. They may be late in taking the test or have failed the exam. Either way, they need to be up to standard, Bragg said.

If a soldier is recommended for reclassification, HRC will look into the other MOS options for the soldier.

HRC will place the soldier in a shortage or balanced MOS, but will not reclassify a soldier into a MOS that is over strength, Bragg said.

In the event a soldier does not meet the qualifications for a shortage or balanced MOS, then that soldier may be reclassified to Special Reporting Code "09U." This identifies the soldier as not being qualified in any Army MOS and will be separated from the Army in nine months.

Separation from the Army is a last resort, Bragg said, but tight budgets and a shrinking force are forcing the Army to search for ways to maintain readiness.

"Our first option is to reclassify soldiers and continue to have them serve in the Army for a career," he said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@monster.com