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Master sergeant selections still a tough cut: Army Times analysis

Selection for master sergeant continues to be one of the toughest promotion cuts in the Army, much tougher in recent years than the competition for sergeant first class and sergeant major stripes.

For example, the 2016 master sergeant board that met in March considered 19,299 Regular Army sergeants first class for advancement, but only recommended 2,207 for promotion, for an overall select rate of 11 percent.

While an improvement over the 8.4 percent select rate in 2015, it still is well below the annual averages of 13 percent for sergeant major and 23 percent for sergeant first class over the past five years.

To qualify for master sergeant promotion consideration, SFCs had to be graduates of the Senior Leader Course and Structured Self-Development Level 4 (SSD-4).

NCOs with dates of rank of Feb. 11, 2012, and earlier were in the primary zone, while those with DOR of Feb. 12, 2012, through March 2, 2014, were in the secondary zone.

The primary zone selects rates were 11 percent for Regular Army soldiers, and 7 percent for Active Guard and Reserve members. The secondary zone select rates were 11.4 percent for the Regular Army and 12.4 percent for the AGR.

A statistical analysis of select rates by command affiliation shows highs of 32 percent and 33 percent for West Point and the Strategic Missile Defense Command, and lows of 2 percent each for the headquarters staff of Army Central Command and the Military Entrance and Processing Command.

Select rates by branch and career management field ranged from lows of 2.6 percent for Military Intelligence, to highs of 50 percent for Electronic Warfare, 41 percent for Air Defense and 28 percent for Cyber Operations.

Select rates primarily are determined by requirements, so that specialties with the most vacancies have the highest select rates.

Soldiers who are promoted as a result of this board must commit to a service obligation of 36 months.

Under the Army's high-year tenure policies, the retention control point for promotable sergeants first class is 26 years of active service, while the RCP for master sergeants is 29 years' service.

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