The Army’s top personnel officer has extended across-the-board temporary promotions for enlisted troops who haven’t attended their professional military education, according to a policy memo that publicly surfaced on Army Reddit and was independently obtained by Army Times.

The memo, signed by Army G-1 Lt. Gen. Douglas Stitt, rescinded a September memorandum that would have ended across-the-board temporary promotions for active duty troops on Jan. 1. For at least another year, Stitt said, otherwise-eligible troops will advance to the higher grade and then have 365 days to complete their next educational milestone.

The temporary promotions began in late 2021 after Human Resources Command realized that Master Leader Course slots — a requirement to promote to master sergeant — were incorrectly issued to senior soldiers rather than higher-rated ones. Then all NCO grades began receiving temporary promotions in January 2022 after a further audit revealed excessive waits for pre-promotion training for other grades as well.

It’s not immediately clear why the Army reversed its decision to end temporary promotions, and Stitt’s Thursday memo did not explain the matter. In September, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Weimer claimed that the “temporary conditions,” such as school backlogs, that first necessitated the pre-PME promotions have passed.

The move may represent a fatal blow to the Army’s long-delayed “selection, training, education, and promotion” (or STEP) vision for enlisted talent management, despite Weimer’s comments about its importance in his September statement.

Through STEP, the service aimed to identify talented soldiers and prioritize them for professional education, thus allowing them to earn promotions ahead of their peers. Once fully realized, leaders explained, the policy was intended to create a bench of ready NCOs that the service could promote based on month-to-month manpower needs.

But STEP has been on ice for three years, and Stitt’s memo said the advancement model “is suspended until further notice.”

The former senior enlisted leader for the G-1 directorate, now-retired Sgt. Maj. Mark Clark, implied in a October 2022 interview that its future may be in question. “Do we maintain this [temporary promotion] posture? Do we go back to STEP as it is?” Clark said in the interview. “Or do we just relook [at] the entire policy as a whole as to what STEP will be?”

Weimer, the Army’s top NCO, stopped short of committing to STEP’s future in a Friday morning statement.

“Currently, we’ve decided STEP will remain suspended and have not determined a timeline for reimplementation,” he said. “Our goal is to ensure our soldiers’ careers do not suffer from factors outside of their control. Soldiers should continue working to get to [enlisted professional education] and leaders should reinforce this.”

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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