Ten years in the Army and still an E-4, Army says “no problem, we’ll keep you”

In a desperate attempt to maintain noncommissioned officers in order to train up a new fighting force in the face of retention woes and new training strategies, the Army is going to retain E-6s it would otherwise kick out.

Making adjustments to retention control points for the first time in two years, the Army has granted a temporary exception to time-in-service limits for junior leadership positions.

In plain English, that means those career E-6s can breath easy for a little while, thanks to a lack of manpower.

“So, we’re short staff sergeants in the Army,” Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey told the Army Times. “Not because of any bad thing, but because we added authorizations. And most of those added authorizations are in the mid-grades.”

The new exceptions are an odd turn for rules Dailey supported over two years ago, which sought to match the needs of a force that was expected to shrink.

The new retention adjustments now allow for Corporals and promotable Specialists with 10 years in service to remain, 15 years for promotable Sergeants, 22 years for some Staff Sergeants and a staggering 26 years for some Sergeants First Class. All categories come with their own caveats, ranging from MOS to service entry date.

The new exceptions will last until November 15 of next year, and Sergeant Major of the Army Dailey hopes that the move will fill out open jobs without disrupting the promotion system.

While involuntary retirement or separation once seemed a very real threat, the new adjustments may offer some Army enlisted leaders a “second chance” they needed- or it may just keep bad NCOs in service. As with most things in the Army, only time will tell.

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