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2016 Army Promotion System Changes
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, August 17, 2015) -- Soldiers will
no longer be promoted without first having successfully completed
related professional military education, or PME, courses, according to
recently-signed Army Directive. Soldiers will need to complete their
schooling before they are allowed their new stripes.

"By linking structured self-development and the NCO Education
System [NCOES] to subsequent promotion, we better prepare NCOs
[noncommissioned officers] for the complexities of today's operational
environment while reinforcing the benefits of a deliberate, continuous,
sequential and progressive professional development strategy," wrote
Army Secretary John M. McHugh in
Army Directive 2015-31, which
was released Aug. 13.

Beginning with the January 2016 promotion month, pinning on the
sergeant will require that Soldiers have first completed the "Basic
Leader Course", which was formally known as the "Warrior Leader
Course." For Soldiers who want to pin on staff sergeant rank, they must
first have completed the Advanced Leader Course.

"Soldiers on the recommended list who are not graduates of the
respective course will not be considered fully qualified for promotion
pin-on regardless of their accumulated promotion points," the directive
reads. "These Soldiers will remain on the recommended list in a
promotable status, but they will not be selected for promotion pin-on
until they become fully qualified by completing the required course and
a promotion requirement exists."

Soldiers expecting to pin on sergeant first class as a result of a fiscal
year 2016 selection board must first complete the Senior Leader
Course before pinning on their new rank.

"Conditions are set so we can enforce a standard for Soldiers to
complete professional military education - that is the NCOES platform -
before promotion to the grade in which it was designed to support,"
said Gerald J. Purcell, personnel policy integrator within the Army G-1.

Purcell said that a Soldier, who is otherwise qualified to be promoted
from corporal or specialist to sergeant, will be on the promotion list. But
when that Soldier's name is next to fill an Army promotion requirement,
if that Soldier is found to have not completed PME - for a specialist
seeking sergeant, this means Basic Leader Course - then the Soldier
will be passed up for that promotion.

"There will be a filter in place that takes their name off the list of
fully-qualified names," Purcell said. "They will get skipped. Even if they
have more promotion points, they will not be considered fully-qualified
to pin the grade of sergeant on."

The Soldier who is skipped for promotion due to a lack of PME still
stays on the promotion list. But once that Soldier gets the PME, he or
she doesn't automatically get stripes. Instead, the Soldier will have to
wait for a future requirement.

Since the 1980s, Purcell said, the Army has allowed "conditional
promotions," where Soldiers could get their stripes without having had
the corresponding professional military education.

"We had NCOs walking around who weren't school-trained, with a
follow-on requirement they complete the training or they were going to
be reduced," he said. "Today, the leadership believes there is a
capability to provide Soldiers an opportunity to go to training, complete
the training, and consequently, have all of the fundamental training in
place before they are asked to perform at the next higher grade."

With the new PME requirement, a Soldier's stripes will not just be an
indicator of rank or pay - it will be an indicator that the Soldier has been
trained as a leader, Purcell said.

"When you see a Soldier wearing a sergeant rank, you know that
Soldier is going to have been trained formally through an education
system to prepare him or her and give them tools to succeed at that
grade," Purcell said. "So the Soldier is going to have all the tools in
their kit bag to fully succeed at their grade."

The new policy also similarly affects National Guard Soldiers where
enlisted Soldiers on a promotion list whom have completed their
structured self-development requirements will be selected and
assigned to higher grade vacancies. Soldiers selected for higher grade
vacancies without the NCOES requirement will have 24 months to
complete the level of NCOES required for promotion pin-on or will be
removed from the position.

Additionally, the directive makes changes to the retention control point
for active-duty and Army Reserve Soldiers. According to the regulation,
effective October 1, Soldiers selected for promotion to sergeant first
class and master sergeant will not get an extended retention control
point until they actually pin on their higher rank.

Download Army Directive 2015-31 - Promotion Counseling
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