Armed Forces News

Top-performing soldiers should have a better chance to advance in the coming years, under an Army plan to revamp its centralized promotion board processes. During the next three to four years, the service intends to enhance promotions based on merit rather than time in service. The change will impact both active-duty and reserve-component soldiers.

The present system, which has been in place more or less since 1969, relies upon projections of force-structure needs. Soldiers are placed on an order-of-merit list, from which they are selected for promotion. Service leaders believe the system does not react to emerging requirements adequately. The best candidates for promotion could find themselves far down on the order-of-merit list, and thus be bypassed for career advancement.


The new system will change that, Sgt. Maj. Gerald Purcell, the personnel policy integrator for Army G-1, believes.

“From a readiness perspective, we are creating a process that reacts to emerging requirements, and it stops us from creating skill and grade imbalances,” Purcell said. “It produces an environment where there is no promotion stagnation … or are forced to separate people because they are in excess to requirements.”

The transition began on Oct. 1, the beginning of fiscal year 2019, with the master sergeant promotion board. In time, as the Army reviews and evaluates the non-commissioned officer corps, the order-of-merit list will no longer be used to generate annual promotion lists.

Full implementation will be complete by Oct. 1, 2020, when fiscal year 2021 begins. At that point, the service will post monthly promotion forecasts for all non-commissioned officers.

Soldiers still will have private and secure online access to the list, from which they can monitor their promotion status.

Other significant changes will take effect as well. While soldiers must complete the Distributed Leaders Course in order to be promoted, it was overlooked for all but specialists and sergeants. By 2021, all soldiers through E-8 (master sergeant) will have to complete the Distributed Leaders Course.