Beginning Jan. 1, the Army will waive professional military education requirements and extend temporary promotions to all otherwise-promotable noncommissioned officers, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston and Army personnel officials announced Monday.

For senior NCOs, the Army will select soldiers monthly for promotion from the order of merit lists — regardless of whether they’ve completed their required PME for promotion.

For junior NCOs, the promotions will function similar to previous temporary promotion authorities for troops in combat zones who may not be able to attend their PME courses. Otherwise-qualified troops who have promotion points above the cut-off score for their military occupational specialty will receive temporary promotions.

The temporary promotion authority will remain in place through Dec. 31, 2022, according to Sgt. Maj. Mark Clark, the Army’s senior personnel NCO.

Troops will have one year to complete their PME after receiving their temporary promotion, or else they will revert to their previous rank. Soldiers who lose their rank will not have the increased pay recouped, though.

Army officials had announced a similar policy for master sergeant promotions earlier this month after a review of order of merit list-based promotions found that large numbers of otherwise-qualified troops were being passed over for promotion. This was because the Army was utilizing an outdated version of the order of merit list, which privileged seniority over merit, in scheduling PME without regard to merit or the Army’s needs in certain career fields.

When announcing the master sergeant policy at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference last month, Grinston said the Army was “going to do a quick deep-dive to see are there any other issues [and] make sure we get those right.”

The review found that there were not enough PME-complete, fully-qualified NCOs to meet all of the Army’s needs.

Thus, Grinston explained Monday, the temporary promotions are intended to alleviate “capacity” issues across the Army’s NCO academies.

The service’s move towards order of merit lists for senior NCO promotions and a “select, train, educate, then promote” framework had created a bottleneck where there were otherwise qualified NCOs unable to attend the required PME for promotion.

Grinston pointed to soldiers forward-deployed in Kuwait, Korea or Europe as likely beneficiaries of the policy, because specialized PME courses for some career fields are located in the continental United States and require extra coordination for overseas-stationed troops to attend.

“This is about making sure we keep an eye on talent management,” Grinston said. “Getting those individuals who are truly talented and getting them promoted on time — it’s about talent management.”

Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.

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