There were some key changes to the Army’s personnel policies as the new fiscal year started this fall.

One policy of interest to troops: soldiers deployed to combat zones or who are pregnant will be able to temporarily promote to the ranks of sergeant through sergeant major before completing the mandatory professional military education courses under a policy that starts Jan. 1.

Also on the horizon, a phone application for squad leaders to help with administrative tasks and a prototype for what is expected to become a Sergeants Major Assessment Program, said Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston during an Oct. 1 interview.

Many of the changes fall under Grinston’s signature push during his tenure as the ranking enlisted soldier within the Army, known as “This is My Squad.”

Another policy codified in a Sept. 5 memo included some changes for soldiers going before promotion boards in the future.

Rather than simply being asked about regulations or telling a board about their own assignments and accomplishments, soldiers will be asked about those for whom they’re responsible.

“So now we want them to come in, and maybe not tell them about themselves,” Grinston told Army Times. “Talk about their squad. How many people do you have? What’s [this] private’s first name? How many kids does he have? Where did he grow up?”

Grinston said he’s also assembling a panel of 24 staff sergeants from a variety of jobs and commands across the globe to assist with This is My Squad. That panel is expected to meet for the first time in November.

Kyle Rempfer is 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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