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The Army is putting off some involuntary discharges to help build the NCO corps

The Army is trying to grow end strength, increase the length of basic training and build new brigades made up of only officers and noncommissioned officers ― which means it’s going to need a lot of E-6s.

To help retain some mid-career talent, the service made the first adjustment to retention control points in two years, granting a temporary exception to existing time-in-service limits for soldiers in junior leadership positions, per MILPER message 18-376.

“So, we’re short staff sergeants in the Army,” Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey told Army Times in a Tuesday interview. “Not because of any bad thing, but because we added authorizations. And most of those added authorizations are in the mid-grades.”

The temporary RCP exceptions are an update to the rules Dailey championed in 2016, tightening limits across the enlisted ranks to match a drawing down force facing promotion gridlock.

But now, the Army is getting bigger.

“So, when you look at the [Security Force Assistance Brigades], the Special Forces, and the end strength that we added ― drill sergeants, recruiters ― you go into the computer and you add these into the documents, and then it takes time to fill them,” Dailey said.

As of Nov. 15, these are the temporary RCPs:

  • 10 years for corporals or promotable specialists (in balanced or under-strength military occupational specialties), up from eight years.
  • 15 years for promotable sergeants (in balanced or under-strength MOSs), up from 14 years.
  • 22 years for staff sergeants with a basic active service date between Nov. 1, 1998, and Sept. 30, 2001, up from 20 years.
  • 26 years for sergeants first class with a BASD between Nov. 1, 1994, and Sept. 30, 1997, up from 24 years.

“We’re doing precision RCP adjustments now,” Dailey said, pinpointing specific ranks rather than raising or lowering limits across the board.

Traditionally, the Army sets time-in-service limits that trigger involuntary retirement or separation for soldiers who aren’t advancing to the next rank along with their peers. Raising RCPs gives them a couple more years to fill in-demand roles and possibly earn a promotion along the way.

The temporary exception lasts until Nov. 15, 2019, according to the MILPER message. It can be updated any time or renewed when it expires.

With service-wide retention up to an historic 86 percent, leadership is keeping an eye on filling out open jobs without clogging up the promotion pipeline.

“We are getting to a point where I want to set an expectation of upward mobility,” Dailey said, adding that the more senior NCO ranks are currently balanced.

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