The Army is giving some of its enlisted soldiers more flexibility with their educational timeline in order to keep their career paths on track.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston announced Tuesday that the service will allow some soldiers to promote to the next rank before taking certain leadership courses, as long as they double back and take them within a certain time period.
Starting Jan. 1, 2021, the Army will give temporary previously-scheduled promotions to soldiers who are deployed, pregnant or attending a non-resident sergeant major course, instead of deferring the promotion.
“These temporary promotions support the Army’s People First Strategy by ensuring our soldiers are fully able to qualify promotion during periods with completion of military education is not otherwise available to them,” Grinston told reporters on Monday.
Deployed soldiers who are temporarily promoted will have one year to complete their required education. Reservists will have 36 months from their redeployment date to complete their education. Pregnant soldiers will have two years after their postpartum time ends and reservists will have 36 months.
“With this new temporary promotion policy, we have the ability to have soldiers starting a family being given the opportunity to be promoted with their peers and still get their professional military education after they complete their postpartum profile,” said Sgt. Maj. Mark Clark, the G-1 sergeant major.
Soldiers will be deferring classes like the Basic Leadership Course and the Advanced Leadership Course.
In 2019, only about 300 soldiers were unable to promote due to deployments. The Army did not keep track of the number of times pregnancies prevented promotions. However, Clark mentioned that the Army hopes the new policy will not deter women from starting a family now that they know their career trajectory will not be disrupted.
Many may be wondering how these soldiers will be qualified for their next position without the required education.
Grinston said that was a concern in the past.
“There are three things that gets you really through the gates for promotion,” Grinston said. “There is a self domain, meaning that you have a requirement to prepare yourself, there’s the distance learning course, that is an online version before you get to your professional military education, and there’s also the operational domain, meaning the unit has a requirement to prepare the individual.”
Grinston said the Army has a duty to prepare its soldiers who are being promoted to lead, even without a course.
“In order for soldiers to get to the point that they qualified for these temporary promotions, those soldiers have already demonstrated that they have the potential to perform at the next higher level,” Command Sgt. Maj. Kenyatta Gaskins said. “They have been recommended for promotion by their commanders. There has already been a process established to validate their ability to perform at the next level, the final step is in validating them with training. I don’t believe we’re blindly promoting individuals, these are soldiers who have demonstrated the ability to perform at the next level.”