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Army Enlisted Promotion System

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Promotion Boards. The next part of the process is the Promotion Board. In order to convene a promotion board, the commander must be in the grade of Lieutenant Colonel (O-5) or above. That means, if the company commander is an O-5, the board can be conducted by the company. However, if the company commander is an O-3, the member will meet the board conducted by the next level of command (such as Battalion) where the commander is at least an O-5.

Some E-4s can be promoted to Sergeant (E-5) without a promotion board, under a new Army promotion policy.

The promotion board consists of at least three voting members and one nonvoting member (the recorder). The President of the Board is the senior member. If the board consists of all enlisted members (NCOs), then the President of the Board should be (if possible) the Command Sergeant Major. If not possible, then the President can be a Sergeant Major (E-9). All members of the board must be at least one grade senior to those being considered for promotion (For example, for an E-5 promotion board, all of the members must be in the grades of E-6 or above).

If available, there must be at least one voting member of the same sex as the soldiers being considered. For example, if a board is considering 50 E-5s for promotion to E-6, and 2 of those being considered are female, the board should have at least one female voting member. Additionally, each board should have at least one voting minority member (African American, Hispanic, Asian, etc.).

Soldiers physically appear before the promotion board. Each board members ask a series of questions, and scores the candidate in four separate areas:

  • Personal Appearance
  • Oral Expression & Conversation Skills
  • Knowledge of World Affairs
  • Awareness of Military Programs
  • Knowledge of Basic Soldiering (Soldier's Manual)
  • Soldier's Attitude (includes an assessment of the soldier's and potential for promotion, trends in performance, etc).

Each board member rates each of the above areas as follows:

  • Average - 1 to 7 points
  • Above Average - 8 to 13 points
  • Excellent - 14 to 19 points
  • Outstanding 20 to 25 points

The maximum number of points that can be awarded by each board member is 150 points, total. The total points for all the voting board members are totaled, and then divided by the number of board members. This results in an "average score" by the board. That becomes the soldier's "promotion board points" (maximum of 150).

The board takes one final action -- they vote on whether or not they recommend the candidate for promotion. If a majority of the members vote "no," then the individual will not be promoted, regardless of how many total administrative and board points they have.

The board points are then added to the administrative points. The maximum possible combined administrative points and board points is 850.

In order to be placed on the promotion "recommended list," a soldier eligible for promotion to E-5 must achieve a minimum of 350 combined administrative and board points. A soldier eligible for promotion to E-6 must have at least 450 total promotion points.

Soldiers who make it through all of the above are placed on the "Recommended List." As I said, there are only a certain number of vacancies available in each MOS for each enlisted grade. Each month, the Army looks at each MOS and determines how many people within the MOS they need to promote to fill the vacancies (remember, vacancies within each grade are created when someone gets promoted out of that grade, gets out of the Army, or re-trains into a different MOS).

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