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Policy change allows experienced Soldiers to serve longer

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 21, 2008) -- A recent extension of retention control points means Soldiers in the rank of staff sergeant and above will be allowed to serve the Army longer, should they desire.

An All Army Activities message, or ALARACT, dated Nov. 8, spelled out the changes to retention control points. The changes, which became effective Nov. 1, increase RCPs for E-6s and above by as many as three years in some cases. The ALARACT also changes the maximum age for enlisted Soldiers to 62 years.

The increase in RCP -- called "high year of tenure" in the Air Force and Navy -- is a force-shaping measure meant to allow experienced noncommissioned officers to stay in the Army longer.

"This is not designed to address any specific shortage," said Master Sgt. Patrick Johnson, retention operations NCO with Army G-1 at the Pentagon. "Rather, it is to provide an avenue for our experienced NCOs to stay in longer if they wish, and to stabilize the force longer. It's good for the Army and good for readiness."

The change to RCP applies to active-duty Army Soldiers and to reserve-component Soldiers in the Active Guard Reserve program. Changes have been made to the RCP for Soldiers in the grade of E-6 and above, and include:

• Staff Sergeant, 23 years

• Staff Sergeant (Promotable), 26 years

• Sergeant First Class, 26 years

• Sergeant First Class (Promotable), 29 years

• First Sergeant/Master Sergeant, 29 years

• First Sergeant/Master Sergeant (Promotable), 32 years

• Command Sergeant Major/SGM, 32 years

The RCP defines the maximum time a Soldier may stay in the Army at a certain rank. For instance, the RCP for a promotable staff sergeant is now 26 years -- up from 24.

If a Soldier in the rank of staff sergeant has served 26 years and hasn't been promoted to sergeant first class, he or she must retire. The ALARACT additionally says a Soldier must leave Army service at the time of their RCP or age 62, whichever of the two comes first.

Johnson said that the change to the RCP does not mean a Soldier must now stay in the Army longer. In fact, Soldiers may apply for retirement any time after becoming eligible.