Functional Area (FA) / Career Fields
A functional area (FA) is a grouping of officers by a career field other than an arm, service or branch possessing an interrelated grouping of tasks and skills that may require significant education, training and experience. Functional area service requires knowledge ranging from math, computers, and science to public speaking and foreign policy. Some functional areas require no formal education and training; others require 12-24 months of graduate-level education. There are multiple opportunities for obtaining fully-funded graduate degrees in these programs.
Functional area assignments usually commences when an officer completes their Captain-level basic branch professional development assignments. Officers will serve in their functional area for two to three years or until utilization completion. Most will then return to their basic branch; others can compete to remain in their function area for future assignments. Officers assigned in their functional area perform a variety of duties at all levels of the military from brigade staffs to the Headquarters, Department of the Army or the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Many of the Army's joint duty positions require officers to serve in their functional areas. Similar to the basic branches, functional area assignments are worldwide.
Officers compete for promotion to Army requirements only with other officers in the same career field. Each career field, or branch or functional area within a career field, has its own unique characteristics and development track for officers which reflects the readiness requirements of the Army today and into the 21st century. Officers from every branch and functional area also fill officer generalist and combat arms generalist (01A/02A) positions across the Army.
Operations (OP) Career Field. The OP Career Field provides the Army with officers qualified by training, education and experience in areas directly related to the deployment, employment and sustainment of land forces. It is composed of officers in the Army's sixteen basic competitive branches and two functional areas, FA 39 (PSYOP and Civil Affairs) and FA 90 (Logistician Program). Command opportunities will exist only for officers in the OP Career Field, with the exception of AAC commands.
Information Operations (IO) Career Field. The IO Career Field responds to the requirements of the 21st century information age, consistent with the Army Vision, which identifies "Gaining Information Dominance" as fundamental to all future Army patterns of operation. The IO Career Field brings together related disciplines with associated functional areas. The functional areas in this career field are FA 24 (Information Systems Engineer), FA 30 (Information Operations), FA 34 (Strategic Intelligence), FA 40 (Space Operations), FA 46 (Public Affairs), FA 53 (Information Systems Management), and FA 57 (Simulation Operations).
Institutional Support (IS) Career Field. The IS Career Field focuses on the increasingly technical and complex nature of running the Army as an organization. The emphasis in this career field is management, planning and programming of Army resources, and both projecting requirements and developing capabilities in the near-term and into the future years. The functional areas in this Career Field are FA 43 (Human Resource Management), FA 45 (Comptroller), FA 47 (US Military Academy Permanent Associate Professor), FA 49 (Operations Research/Systems Analysis (ORSA), FA 50 (Force Management), FA 52 (Nuclear Research and Operations), and FA 59 (Strategic Plans and Policy).
Operations Support (OS) Career Field. The OS Career Field strengthens current readiness while building the future force through its liaison, procurement, programming and development specialties. This career field contains the FA 51 (Army Acquisition Corps) and FA 48 (Foreign Area Officer).
Career fields are assigned through a career field designation process. An important part of the process is the convening of a formal board to recommend career fields for individual officers. PERSCOM identifies officers in the window for career field designation and notifies them of required actions to be taken in advance of the board. PERSCOM also provides the board with the number of officers to be designated into each career field, as well as the branches from which these officers will be drawn, based on Army requirements. This process is similar to the way in which promotion requirements by branch and functional area are determined. The board is charged to identify and take into consideration officer preference, aptitudes, and abilities in order to best meet the needs of the Army.
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