New Enlisted Promotion System

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, center, takes the time to great Fort Leonard Wood-based Soldiers during an installation visit in November.

WASHINGTON – More deserving Soldiers will be promoted sooner, and fewer school seats should go vacant under the Army’s new Enlisted Centralized Promotion Board process, said the Army’s top enlisted leader last week.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey took part in a Facebook Live session May 29 along with Sgt. Maj. Mark Clark of the G-1 Directorate of Military Personnel Management. They discussed changes to the Army’s noncommissioned officer boards scheduled to be implemented over the next three years.

“It used to be called a promotion board; in the future it will be called an evaluation board,” Dailey proclaimed. Future boards will evaluate Soldiers for schooling and assignments as well as promotion. Under the new process, if an NCO cannot go to school for any reason, then the next in line will immediately be offered the seat.

The fundamentals of how NCO records are evaluated by the boards will not change, Dailey also announced. The big change will be how those deemed fully-qualified are sequenced.

“Previously, the board members would vote; they would rack and stack individuals based on DA Pam 600-25; and then they would be re-sequenced based on time in service and time in grade. That process will not happen anymore,” Dailey said. “It will be a true talent-based list.”

When the board decides a Soldier is the most talented and all prerequisites have been met, that individual will be No. 1 on the list.

“That number, for the first time in the history of our centralized promotion board system, will show you how you rated against your peers. It won’t be based simply on seniority,” the SMA said. “We want to (transition) from largely a time-based system to a talent-based system where the most talented is promoted first. I can assure you it is the right direction to take our NCO Corps.”

Following future boards, a sequenced promotion list will not be published, Clark explained. A list of all fully-qualified NCOs will instead be published in alphabetical order. 

“So, there won't be a committed list where you have to wait 12-to-18 months to be promoted,” he said. NCOs will first be evaluated 18 months out from when they’re eligible.

Dailey disagreed with any notion the revised system will result in Soldiers being promoted too fast. “That (perception) is not true,” he contested.

Furthermore, an NCO must still meet all the qualifications before being promoted, he stressed. Under the old process, boards drew a line across the sequenced list based on an estimate of how many NCOs in that MOS would be needed at that rank. Only those on top of the line would be promoted.

“Sometimes we got it right. Sometimes we didn't,” Dailey remarked.

The new process will allow more NCOs to be promoted mid-year if that what’s needed, he explained. The system is better suited to an evolving, adapting and changing Army.

“Most importantly, this process will improve Army readiness,” Clark said. “We will now be able to promote Soldiers, assign them and train them based on being the best-qualified to man our forces so that we can be the most lethal Army in the world.”

Education about the new board process will begin this year with sergeants major and be followed by training for the trainers. Comprehensive education in the new system will be provided over the next three years to all Soldiers. Current sequence numbers from recent boards will remain in effect for now. The new process will be adopted over time to keep from hurting any NCOs, Dailey said. 

The process will be implemented first for the most senior ranks. Beginning this year the nominative sergeant major board and command selection boards were cancelled. They will be replaced with an evaluation board that will take place in August, Clark said.

This month, the master sergeant board that was conducted will not sequence those qualified by time, but instead by merit. In November 2020, a new sergeant first class evaluation board will be held, he continued, later explaining this was formally known as the master sergeant promotion board.

In February of 2021, staff sergeants will be evaluated by the new board for promotion to sergeant first class and for assignments.

Dailey said the old centralized promotion process “served the Army well for 50 years,” but the time had come to improve upon it. The new process should allow qualified NCOs to attend school and be promoted with less delay.

“It rewards those who are working hard to do what the Army needs them to do,” Dailey confirmed.