Army issues new policy after study finds out half of the non-commissioned officers never met the requirements to be promoted

U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz’s New Parent Support Group hosted a community baby shower to honor expectant mothers and military families at the Rheinlander Community Center in Baumholder, Germany, Nov. 2, 2023, U.S. Army Spc. Leonardo Castro, center, dons a pregnancy belly as part of the event. U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz

By Army News Service

WASHINGTON — Beginning in June, the Army is suspending a requirement for Soldiers to complete a previously required level of professional military education, or PME, to qualify for promotion to noncommissioned officer, or NCO, ranks up through master sergeant.

With this announcement, the Army will no longer use temporary promotions for NCO promotions and all previously issued temporary promotions for NCOs will become permanent. This is being done to help relieve excessive strain on the force and to meet readiness requirements.

Army personnel originally created the temporary promotion policy to help accommodate pregnant Soldiers and troops in postpartum. Over time, the application of temporary promotions was extended to support deployed Soldiers on unit missions, during the pandemic when travel and training were suspended, and then further expanded during the transition from promotion selection boards to the NCO evaluation board process. In January 2022 it has been applicable for all NCO promotions from sergeant through master sergeant.

The Army cites this effort as a bridging strategy while it re-evaluates the relationship between completion of a formal PME course and promotion eligibility while ensuring the NCO Corps remain prepared for the complexities presented within today’s operational environment. During this period, the Army will realign the required levels of the NCO Professional Development System to advance Soldiers to their next pay grade.

The measure will ease the strain on Soldiers who struggled to meet necessary PME timeline requirements based on factors that are outside of the Soldier’s control, said Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Uribe, Directorate of Military Personnel Management sergeant major.

“In our attempt to increase transparency with our Soldiers, we acknowledge those strains (operation deployments, family/personal circumstances) that are outside of the Soldiers’ control which interfere with timely attendance to PME,” Uribe said. Uribe said that PME and attendance of the service’s training academies will remain a high priority for Soldier development.

Army personnel evaluated the service’s more than 112,000 enlisted promotions from the ranks of sergeant through master sergeant from December 2021 through February 2024 Uribe said. The study found that half of the service’s enlisted NCO promotions fell under “temporary” status. Uribe said mission requirements, pandemic restrictions and family obligations led to Soldiers filing for a high number of PME deferments.

“Some of these Soldiers were still not able to attend school well after the 12-month requirement to obtain a permanent promotion,” Uribe said. “The policy created a lot of undue stress on the force that was often outside of the Soldiers’ control.”

Active duty and Army Reserve Soldiers will still be required to qualify themselves by completing professional military training for their current rank before progressing to their next rank.

Uribe said the measure will be a bridge to an eventual permanent promotion policy for the Army. Additionally, the service will incentivize and award additional promotion points for Soldiers who have already completed PME when competing for promotion to sergeant and staff sergeant.

The Army will retain a provision for temporary rank promotions for pregnant and postpartum Soldiers in those instances when a Soldier has a back-to-back pregnancy, as well as candidates for the non-resident portions of the Sergeants Major Academy.

“[Select, Train, Educate, Promote] policy requires an ability to identify the right Soldier, for the right training at the right time,” said Jerry Purcell, Army personnel policy integrator and retired sergeant major said. “It’s a timing issue. When you think about it in [those] terms, the Army has the means to identify best qualified Soldiers; either through an order of merit list stemming from a centralized board or by promotion points. And the Army knows the right training. Where we struggle is with the availability of the right Soldier for that training at the right time”.

Uribe said “During this bridging strategy, the Army will continue to re-evaluate the synchronization between professional training and promotions”.

The director of the Army National Guard will provide separate guidance and implementing instructions pertaining to the National Guard, Uribe said.

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