Senior Army Enlisted Can Soon Be Temporarily Promoted Without NCO Schooling

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Master Leader Course graduation at Joint Base Lewis-McChord
U.S. Army soldier and noncommissioned officer SFC Christopher Howell graduates from the Master Leader Course at the Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Mar. 7, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Almon Bate)

Noncommissioned officers who haven't yet graduated from the Army's Master Leader Course, or MLC, may still get promoted beginning next month, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston announced Wednesday.

The Army plans to kick off a new policy Nov. 1, allowing soldiers to be temporarily promoted to E8 for up to a year and giving those NCOs time to attend the course or enter proof of graduation into the service's back-end personnel system.

That system can get bogged down when tracking promotions and participation in MLC, which is Army-wide and not segmented by specialties such as infantry.

Some soldiers saw gaps between their graduation and when it was reflected in their records, and thus were not qualified for promotion on paper. Previously, soldiers were sent to school based on time in the Army. The order of merit list, or OML, was supposed to be a more comprehensive look at a soldier's qualifications, ranking troops based on a broad spectrum for the next promotion.

Also, under the order of merit list system, a soldier's graduation from the course would shoot them to the top of the list. Now, the Army will temporarily not take MLC into account on the OML, though that will continue to be evaluated.

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“We’re going to temporary promotions based on the requirements we need, based off the OML,” Grinston said. “If you were No. 1 and you were skipped because of [school], you'll get promoted for one year. We’re also going to increase the slots [for MLC].”

Previously, when it came time to choose soldiers to attend the Master Leader Course, it was based on who was on the top of the OML, even though soldiers may have already graduated. That caused wasted time scheduling soldiers who already attended.

"What we're saying is, if I'm No. 5 on the OML, and even if I don't have the certificate in the system, I'm going to get promoted," Grinston said. "I might have not even gone to school."

Other Army NCO schools, such as Basic and Advanced Leader Course, are job-specific, and those schools and promotions will not see any changes, Grinston said. However, he noted promotions of all ranks will be examined to see whether changes need to be made.

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

Related: All Soldiers Now Must Serve As Corporals Before Promotion to Sergeant

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