The Army will continue to allow noncommissioned officers to be promoted before attending their respective courses for that rank, according to a service memo reviewed by Military.com. The policy was originally changed a year ago and was set to expire at the end of this year.
NCOs will have until Dec. 1, 2023, to be promoted before going to the school that traditionally corresponds with that rank, such as Basic Leader Course for sergeant and Advanced Leader Course for staff sergeant. However, soldiers must complete their schooling within a year of being promoted or they will revert back to their previous rank, according to the memo signed Dec. 1 by Lt. Gen. Douglas Stitt, who oversees Army personnel policy.
One exception to that one-year deadline is engineer divers, who will have two years.
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The change to allow promotions before school was spurred mostly due to NCO schools having a backlog of students, tied to the coronavirus pandemic. Other than schooling, NCOs will have to be otherwise fully qualified for their promotion, including the completion of their online Distributed Leader Course.
“I really wanted to announce that we don’t need that exception to policy anymore,” Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston said at a briefing in October. “We are still struggling to get our soldiers to school before it’s time to get promoted.”
Getting a slot in those schools can be challenging, with the pandemic exacerbating the issue by canceling courses. And part-time soldiers in the National Guard and reserve may face difficulties finding time to attend school while juggling their civilian jobs and often having to travel long distances out of state.
The Army is also making a series of adjustments to the number of points from courses and tests that will be counted toward promotion to sergeant and staff sergeant. In April, the service will double the value of expert soldier, field and medical badges to 60 points. At the same time, performance on the fitness test will count for less, being worth a maximum of 120 points, a 60-point decrease for sergeant and 25 for staff sergeant.
— Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.
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