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ARLINGTON, Va. — Reserve and National Guard officers will soon have separate promotion tracks instead of competing against one another.

Beginning in January, the Army will have three separate promotion categories for reserve component officers: a list for National Guard officers, a list for Army Reserve officers and a third list for Army Reserve officers assigned to active duty, said Lt. Col. Wanda Walker, a personnel policy integrator for reserve component promotions.

The old Army Promotion List grouped together all Guard and Reserve officers except for chaplains and Army Medical Department officers, who have their own promotion systems, according to Army personnel officials.

But that system led to a disproportionate promotion selection rate for the Army’s 3,500 Reserve officers who are assigned to active duty status: about 90 percent, as compared to their regular Reserve and National Guard brethren, who have been promoted in the 70 percent to 80 percent range, Walker said Wednesday.

The number of Reserve officers who can be assigned to active duty is capped by Congress.

Although some Army personnel officials said the old system worked well because “the best-quality officers were getting promoted … basically, the system wasn’t fair,” Walker said.

That’s because Reserve and Guard officers who may work only a few weeks each year were being compared to officers who do their jobs full-time, she said.

The new system, however, “will level the playing field,” because officers “will be looked at against the same kinds of officers,” Walker said.

Once the changes to the promotion system for the larger groups of reserve component officers is up and running, personnel officials plan to institute a similar system for reserve component chaplains and Medical Department officers.

The plan is to start that new promotion system starting in fiscal 2006, or next October.

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