The Army has moved closer to launching a new promotion system for NCOs with the early-December redistribution of promotion points for specialists, corporals and sergeants competing for E-5 and E-6 stripes.

Under the STEP, or Select-Train-Educate-Promote, program that launches on Jan. 1, changes to the semi-centralized system for sergeant and staff sergeant will take effect through the Promotion Point Worksheet, an electronic document.

Most noticeably, promotion points previously available for completion of military schooling, such as the Basic Leader Course (previously called the Warrior Leader Course) and the Advanced Leader Course, will go away on Jan. 1 when these courses become requirements for promotion pin-on to sergeant and staff sergeant.

To ease the effect of this major policy change, soldiers previously awarded points for completing NCO courses will retain 10 points per course until they are promoted to sergeant or staff sergeant.

Under the previous system, the Basic Leader Course was worth 80 points, and the Advanced Leader Course 90 points.  Soldiers can still earn additional points for academic excellence if they make the commandant's list or are named the distinguished graduate for these courses.

The Army also is eliminating the points (up to 60 for sergeant, and 90 for staff sergeant) that were available for combat experience in the "Military Training" section of the worksheet.

The points previously available for training courses and combat experience have been redistributed and provide increased totals for physical fitness, marksmanship, civilian education and foreign-language proficiency.

The maximum number of points available on the worksheet remains 800.

Under the new procedures, soldiers who do not meet the new schooling requirements for promotion pin-on will not be considered for promotion the following month.

For example, if on Dec. 8 a promotable specialist has 400 promotion points and credit for the completion of Self-Development 1 (SD-1), but has not graduated from the Basic Leader Course, that soldier will not be promoted to sergeant, even if the cutoff score for January is less than 400.

The soldier will not be promoted because he or she has not completed the Basic Course.

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