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Yes, Horatio, It’s Time to Rename the AG Corps

In the middle of our conversation about human resources (HR), a fellow faculty member at the Army Command and General Staff College blurted out, “HR, personnelists, adjutant general [AG] . . . or whatever you AG types are calling yourself these days!” That got me thinking, is the Adjutant General branch due for a name change or at least an upgrade? I think so. Specifically, I believe the Adjutant General Corps should be officially renamed the Human Resources (HR) Corps.

Aligning the Corps With Current Doctrine

The Army has already renamed the majority of its personnel agencies and career fields to align with the term “human resources.” The Personnel Command was reflagged as the Army Human Resources Command. Field Manual (FM) 12–9, Personnel Doctrine, was renamed FM 1–0, Human Resources Support. The future personnel database is named the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System. The new theater-level deployable agency is the human resources support center. Theater and expeditionary support commands and sustainment brigades contain HR operations cells or branches. The personnel work horses of the organizational structure are called HR companies. Military occupational specialty (MOS) titles also reflect the term “HR.” For example, MOS 42A is a human resources sergeant or specialist, and MOS 42F is a human resources information systems management specialist.

The Army’s premier doctrinal source for personnel support, FM 1–0, contains the words “human re­sources” 93 times and the acronym “HR” 986 times, compared to 12 and 10 appearances for the words “adjutant general” and the acronym “AG,” respectively. The HR to AG ratio within the document is a combined 1,079 to 22. Interestingly, FM 1–0 codifies the 10 most important AG missions as HR core competencies.

In the private sector, HR support encompasses both personnel pay and personnel management. In modeling that holistic corporate approach to HR, Army doctrine recently shifted the personnel pay functions from the finance community and placed them under the Army’s HR structure. In the spirit of following such corporate trends, the Army should continue to formalize the use of the term “human resources” (in lieu of “adjutant general”) in its doctrine, organizations, business practices and, most assuredly, in the name of its professionally aligned regimental corps affiliations.

Renaming the AG Corps “the HR Corps” will also end the AG Corps’ unflattering connection to pure “adjutant” duties. Units no longer officially have adjutant positions on their manning documents. Instead, today’s unit manning documents contain HR officer positions, so any effort to rename the corps as HR versus AG would serve the professional HR community appropriately.

Honoring Horatio Gates

Some argue that the corps’ name must remain aligned with Horatio Gates, the Adjutant General to General George Washington’s Continental Army, in order to preserve appropriate lineage. But many Army corps and regiments have historical affiliations with historic personalities without actually taking on those personalities’ duty titles. For instance, the Field Artillery Corps has a historical affiliation with Saint Barbara and celebrates her through an honorary society, the Order of Saint Barbara.

The newly renamed Human Resources Corps Regimental Association would continue to award gold and bronze Horatio Gates Medals for significant achievements, service, and leadership. Modernizing the name of the corps to the HR Corps does not automatically imply that the corps is not proud of its founding roots or its place in history. On the contrary, AG Soldiers hold Horatio Gates in high esteem. We consider Gates our patron saint and will continue to do so, regardless of the name of the corps.

The U.S. Army is irrefutably the largest corporate organization in the world, yet its personnel management lexicon is stuck in time. The name “Adjutant General” has served the corps and the Army admirably, and the full wealth of AG historical lineage endures. It is time, however, for the AG Corps to raise the centerpiece of personnel transformation, cut the ribbon on the grand opening of the HR era, and give the corps the title that fully aligns with what the Army’s HR community does every day in support of Soldiers, civilians, retirees, and their families. Yes, Horatio, the time has come.

Lyle N. Adams is a retired Adjutant General Corps Lieutenant Colonel and an instructor in the Department of Logistics and Resource Operations at the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

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