Virtual promotion boards, a suspension on military education requirements and extensions to weapons and fitness test qualifications have been announced for enlisted promotion cycles scheduled until the end of the fiscal year, or until terminated, according to a March 23 memo from the Army G-1.

The exceptions come as the Army orders all posts to enter HPCON Charlie, which requires installations to limit access to essential personnel only and limit the numbers of open gates.

The policies will impact active duty and reserve soldiers, said Sgt. Maj. Mark Clark, the Army G-1 directorate of military personnel management sergeant major. Many of the alterations will take effect in May. National Guard exceptions will come at a later date, the Army said in a public release.

Get on Zoom or Skype

Commanders can now hold virtual promotion boards, but it’s up to the command team to determine the best way to communicate.

“We gave some latitude to the command teams, allowing them to be creative on how they want to assess their Soldiers,” Clark said in the release.

“With all of the different virtual options that command teams will access to… it gives the commander the option to do [their promotion boards] via the internet or in an environment that supports social distancing," Clark added.

PME suspension

Professional military education course requirements will be temporarily suspended in May for staff sergeants and sergeants first class who need to complete the Advanced Leader Course or Senior Leader Course, Clark said.

It doesn’t waive the requirement, but moves the course start to a later date.

“Soldiers who have always been doing the right thing … by already completing their requisite level of professional military education to qualify themselves for promotion, will be selected for promotion before [those who] have not completed their professional military education,” Clark said.

Fitness and weapons quals

Army Physical Fitness Test scores will continue to be a promotion eligibility requirement, but soldiers can use their last recorded test score for promotion recommendation and pin-on, according to the Army.

“There are certain organizations that currently are not resourced to perform the APFT,” Clark said. The exception policy will help soldiers under travel and training restrictions across the force, he added.

Expired APFT scores won’t force a soldier off the promotion standing list and commanders cannot flag soldiers for failing to take an APFT during the ongoing outbreak.

If you previously failed the APFT, you’ll remain flagged, though. More guidance on that will come at a later date, the release said.

The same type of extension is also being applied to weapons qualifications, even though those are not tied to a soldier’s promotion recommendation or pin-on eligibility, the release noted. Weapons qualification scores are still part of the promotion board process, it added.

The Army said the exceptions will be reviewed every month as the coronavirus pandemic continues, but will remain in place until Sept. 30 if not lifted earlier.

Kyle Rempfer was an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.

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