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First officer promotion board to look at ‘merit’ is released

The Army’s officer promotion boards are starting to include merit-based considerations that allow certain officers to be placed higher on the promotion list.

The majors list released on Wednesday announced the results of the Army’s first officer merit promotion board. The officers selected can expect to be promoted to major in coming months.

The whole process is designed to promote top performers sooner, according to service officials.

When Army Human Resources Command convened its fiscal 2019 competitive category promotion board for majors, officials were taking advantage of a new measure allotted by Congress.

Board members “recommended select active duty officers serving in each of the Operations, Operations Support, Force Sustainment and Information Dominance categories for promotions to be sequenced by their board established order of merit rather than by their prior dates of rank,” according to an Oct. 30 Army news release.

Officers with the highest order of merit scores will be promoted at the very beginning of list execution.

“Officers selected from the ‘below zone’ eligible population will, in almost all instances, be among the officers at the top of the order of merit,” the release reads.

Eventually, merit-based promotions will be extended to those up for promotion to lieutenant colonel and colonel in select categories that will be determined by the secretary of the Army.

Officers who were selected for merit promotion on the 2019 list will be promoted after the service has gone through the entire 2018 list.

That date is tentatively scheduled for July 31, 2020, according to the Army.

“For years ‘below zone’ selection is what officers have hoped to achieve as a result of stellar performance. A paradigm shift in terminology is needed to recognize that ‘merit’ is the new gold standard," Brig. Gen. Robert W. Bennett, the Army Adjutant General, said in the release.

“We chose to do this for the Major grade initially because we felt that was the most critical officer developmental inflection point for field grades," Bennett added. “We feel the result will be a dramatic return on the investment in early advancement.”

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