Armed Forces News

Students wait to check into the emergency Basic Leader Course at the 168th Regional Training Institute Fort Carson, Colorado, April 30, 2020. The 168th is holding the BLC entirely online for the first time, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Zach Sheely)

Army specialists who complete the Basic Leader Course (BLC) soon will have to advance laterally to corporal before they can make E-5 sergeant. The change takes effect July 1 for active-duty soldiers, and Oct. 1 for reservists. Even though specialists and corporals both hold E-4 paygrades, corporals are by definition junior non-commissioned officers. Soldiers who currently hold the rank of corporal now will have to complete the BLC as well. Those who do not would revert in rank to specialist. Lateral moves to specialist or corporal do not entail any change in basic pay. Soldiers promoted to corporal should expect to wear the rank for “a period of time” that would vary before they can advance to sergeant, the Army said in announcing the change.

The new policy is aimed at further fostering leadership skills among junior enlisteds. Under the outgoing policy, soldiers who showed “leadership potential” were tapped for corporal.

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“We want to get after leading, teaching and mentoring our junior enlisted soldiers early,” said Sgt. Maj. Kenyatta Gaskins, Directorate of Military Personnel Management sergeant major. “This is a change in culture.”

Junior enlisted leaders play essential roles in building cohesive, disciplined and highly trained teams, said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston. He believes the change would acknowledge the fact that specialists often have assumed these tasks.

“This allows us to recognize their role as a noncommissioned officer and ensure they’re getting the coaching and mentorship they need to be successful,” Grinston said. “It’s a visual reminder that soldiers have transitioned from junior ranks to become a member of the NCO corps.”

In charge of the service’s smallest units, corporals are responsible for the care, training and readiness of those under them.