Three of the Army’s senior-most personnel in charge of enlisted promotions offered updates to ongoing changes in senior NCO promotion policies in a virtual town hall Tuesday. The leaders took questions from Facebook, Twitter and Reddit’s Army community.

The service has been temporarily promoting NCOs this year regardless of whether they’ve completed the required professional military education for the next rank. That’s because the service struggled to adequately prioritize school slots and distribute them across career field, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston explained last year.

In the town hall, Grinston said that he’s personally monitoring the situation in order to ensure the school backlog is easing.

“I look at this every month when we do an in-depth review on every MOS, every temporary promotion” and schools attendance, the Army’s top NCO said. “Our ultimate goal is to get rid of the backlog by October of this year.”

The top NCO in the service’s personnel directorate, Sgt. Maj. Mark Clark, said the early data is encouraging. He shared a snippet of the numbers for master sergeant temporary promotions.

“[In January], we had 248 temporary promotions [without PME] out of about 450 promotions,” Clark said. “Fast forward now to March — we’re down to 74 [temporary promotions] that we’re doing.”

Sgt. Maj. Anthony McAdoo, the top enlisted soldier in Human Resources Command, said the move to buy time for schools to catch up on their waiting lists is showing progress. The waiting list for the Master Leader Course, which is required for promotion to master sergeant, has seen “about a 10% decrease from month-to-month since we started temporary promotions,” he said.

The G-1 sergeant major added that the picture is less clear for lower NCO ranks because their PME schools are specific to their MOS, but that the overall trend is good.

Clark noted that one factor that made master sergeant promotions particularly challenging was a legislative change that allowed the Army to promote 600 more active duty E8s.

According to Grinston, the temporary promotions will continue for all NCOs “until we get rid of the [PME] backlog.” And for some populations — pregnant and deployed soldiers in particular — the policy will stay, he confirmed.

When will senior NCO Order of Merit Lists release?

One commenter on Reddit drew laughter and led Grinston to threaten the moderator with pushups when they asked a question about when order of merit lists will release for senior NCO promotions.

The new lists, which rank NCOs on merit rather than seniority, will provide the basic for PME selections and ultimately promotions once the Army catches up on the school backlog.

“I know it’s online, but I see the same basic question all the time,” the Reddit user said. “This shows me two things: one, my peers are lazy, and two, it’s not widely broadcasted from the powers that be.”

In response, Clark said the service plans on the following “permanent release dates” on an annual basis for the order of merit lists from senior NCO evaluation boards.

  • Sergeant First Class: Jan. 20
  • Master Sergeant: July 20
  • Sergeant Major: Sept. 20

Those dates will only move if “something significant takes place,” Clark said.

Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.

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