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NEWS | Oct. 18, 2021

Army to briefly promote senior NCOs without schooling next month

By Thomas Brading Army News Service

Senior noncommissioned officers who have not yet graduated from the Master Leaders Course may still be promoted in the coming weeks, said the Army’s top enlisted Soldier.

The new policy starts Nov. 1 and will briefly promote qualified Soldiers to E-8 for up to a year to provide them time to complete required schooling, or enter proof of graduation into the service’s backend personnel system.

“If you’re on the OML [order of merit list], we’re going to promote right off [it] if there’s a requirement,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston during an event at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition Wednesday.

Grinston noted the policy doesn’t mean every Soldier on the list will be promoted. But since they may face a variety of situations, from those who’ve already gone to school to those who are attending now, many will, he said.

“You may not even have to catch up too much,” he said. “We’re also going to increase the slots and authorizations so we can get ahead of the OML so that you will get to school and we don’t have this issue in the future.”

In the past, it was difficult for leaders across the Army to track participation, Grinston said. On paper, some Soldiers were not qualified for promotion because their graduations were not reflected in their personnel records.

Ranking Soldiers on the OML is determined by several factors, such as professional military education.

“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.”

Even though the Army will not consider MLC in its OML for now, it will be evaluated later, he said. The policy does not eliminate the requirement for leadership education.

“We’re going to promote off the OML on the authorizations that we require. If you meet the proper requirements other than [professional military education], you will get a temporary promotion,” Grinston said.

“We’re going to temporary promotions based on the requirements we need, based off the OML,” he added. “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].”

Unlike MLC, other Army NCO schools, like the Advanced and Senior Leaders courses, are job specific and they will remain the same. The SMA noted promotions of all ranks would be reviewed “in a deep-dive review,” he said, in case changes are needed.

Regarding the Basic Leaders Course, the SMA also announced the Army will implement financial training during the first leadership course for NCOs. Other tasks will still include leadership, training management, land navigation, warfighting and drill and ceremony.

“We have to look at both. Are you getting enough money for your family and if you are, how are you managing your money?” Grinston said. “Those are the tasks that we have. When a Soldier gets promoted, you are required to give them a class on financial literacy.”

Sgt. Adam Krauland, who was named the Army’s NCO of the Year earlier this week, attended the SMA’s initiatives briefing.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville interrupted Grinston’s remarks and joined him on stage, where the senior leaders did an impromptu promotion for the young NCO.

Krauland walked out of the event as the Army’s newest staff sergeant.

Although early promotions were a hot topic, the SMA outlined many other initiatives.

He used the opportunity to dispel the false notion that “all I see is green, one standard,” he said, when speaking of Soldier equality. NCOs in attendance were instead tasked with acknowledging Soldiers in and out of uniform.

Standard and discipline are the foundation of the Army, he said, and it is still their responsibility as leaders to recognize those standards. However, they must also recognize what their Soldiers are uniquely going through in life.

Leaders should take time to examine the difficult conversation, which arose last year after widespread civil unrest involving racial inequalities, he said. By discussing these topics, NCOs can get to know their Soldiers better when they are not in uniform.

Amid the civil unrest in the country, many Soldiers were “dealing with all this rage and pain,” Grinston said, adding that they felt their feelings were not acknowledged by leaders.

“I don’t think that’s the way you should do it,” he said to the NCOs. “Just acknowledge it and let’s have this conversation. You may struggle with it, but don’t ignore it. Maybe it’s an argument, but that’s what families do.

“And that’s OK,” he added, emphasizing the necessity of talking about each other’s differences. Because “then we go back to the Army’s values and say, ‘this is what I believe in, in my organization… in my squad.’”

The sergeant major also spoke about the rise in suicides within the force. Grinston told the group that personal interaction cannot be substituted. “NCOs must take time to know [their] Soldiers,” he said.

“Plan it, put it on your calendar and do it,” he added. “We’ve got to check on our Soldiers. If you don’t have time to go do those things, you may end up being consumed with very bad things. Do it before you lose someone in your organization.”