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Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston gives opening remarks in the U.S. Army People First Take Force Solarium at West Point, N.Y., March 15, 2021. Army noncommissioned officers who have yet to complete mandatory pre-promotion education courses but are otherwise qualified will be allowed to advance to their next rank next year in an expansion of the service’s temporary promotions policy, Grinston said Monday, Nov. 1, 2021.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston gives opening remarks in the U.S. Army People First Take Force Solarium at West Point, N.Y., March 15, 2021. Army noncommissioned officers who have yet to complete mandatory pre-promotion education courses but are otherwise qualified will be allowed to advance to their next rank next year in an expansion of the service’s temporary promotions policy, Grinston said Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (Sgt. Gregory Muenchow/U.S. Army photo)

Army noncommissioned officers who have yet to complete mandatory pre-promotion education courses but are otherwise qualified will be allowed to advance to their next rank next year in an expansion of the service’s temporary promotions policy, the top enlisted soldier said Monday.

The new policy will begin Jan. 1 and applies to all soldiers eligible for promotion to the ranks of sergeant through master sergeant who have been unable to complete required professional military education courses for a variety of reasons, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said. The soldiers would have to complete the required courses — for example the Basic Leader Course for promotion to sergeant or the Advanced Leader Course for promotion to staff sergeant — within the next year or they would revert back to their prior rank, he added.

“This is about talent management and promoting the best soldiers available," Grinston said. “Like a highly qualified individual who through no fault of their own … didn’t get a chance to go to that [professional military education] course.”

The Army has more eligible soldiers trying to attend such courses than it can accommodate in its schools, Grinston told reporters. That leads to some top performing soldiers missing their promotions for reasons beyond their control. The Army underestimated how many soldiers that it would need to send to those schools during its last planning cycle, roughly four years ago, he said.

Other soldiers have been unable to attend mandatory schooling because of deployments and other issues.

The Army announced a temporary promotion policy last year that authorized promotions for otherwise qualified soldiers to advance in rank without finishing pre-promotion training because they were deployed in a combat zone or other hostile area. The temporary promotion policy also applied to those who missed education courses because of a pregnancy.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston poses for his official portrait at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Aug. 12, 2019.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston poses for his official portrait at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Aug. 12, 2019. (William Pratt/U.S. Army)

In developing the new policy, Grinston said top service officials were thinking about soldiers deployed to noncombat zones in places such as South Korea or Europe, where they spend months training away from home and cannot attend mandatory schooling.

“We’re trying to ensure we get those individuals to school but not disadvantage them for doing those things we ask them to do as a soldier,” Grinston said.

For now, the new policy expansion will last for one year, Grinston said, announcing it is set to expire Dec. 31, 2022. However, the Army will revisit the policy in September to determine if it should be extended. The Army will also spend the coming months determining if it should add more instructors and classes to its mandatory schools, he said.

Last month, the Army approved a similar temporary promotion policy for master sergeants to be promoted to sergeants major before completing the required Master Leader Course. Beginning Monday, the Army will not consider whether master sergeants have finished that course before promoting them to sergeant major, however they must then complete the Master Leader Course within one year to retain that top rank, officials said.

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Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.
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