The U.S. Army is reconfiguring its promotion policies to better reward U.S. troops training Iraqi and Afghan security forces, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, a vital mission widely seen as a career-killer within the military.
The changes highlight the growing belief among senior Army officers that future conflicts will closely resemble the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan — and that U.S. troops will need to train the two nations’ nascent security forces indefinitely, the paper reported.
The new rules will in essence make service on the training teams — which live and work alongside Iraqi and Afghan forces as mentors — equal for promotion purposes to time spent in traditional Army roles like commanding artillery or logistics units, according to the report.
"Our ability to train and operate effectively with indigenous forces will be a key element of 21st century land power," the paper reported Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey as writing in an e-mail to other officers detailing the new policies. "We need our best involved."
Army officials told the Wall Street Journal that the new rules were designed to communicate the importance of the training mission to the officers currently on the teams, as well as to the much larger pool of soldiers who might volunteer or be selected for the mission down the road.
The shift "puts training on the same footing" as other kinds of assignments when it comes to promotions, Army spokesman Paul Boyce told the paper.