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Promotion-point calculations changing for sergeants

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (March 28, 2011) -- Beginning in June, Soldiers seeking advancement to sergeant or staff sergeant will find the Army has automated its promotion-point calculation and changed the way points are earned.

On June 1, the Army will implement modifications to the Semi-Centralized Promotion System for those applying for promotion to the ranks of sergeant and staff sergeant.

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Soldiers will still earn a maximum of 800 points on the promotion-point worksheet, but where those points come from has changed.

The biggest change is that points will no longer come from either a promotion board or a Soldier's commander. Currently, Soldiers earn as many as 300 points in those two areas.

Commanders will still be able to recommend Soldiers for promotion, and boards will still provide a "go" or "no-go" for promotion - but Soldiers will no longer earn points in those areas.

"It allows us to be more fair and objective in our promotion points, as opposed to a subjective system," said Brig. Gen. Richard P. Mustion, the Army's adjutant general. "Yet it retains the responsibility of the chain of command. It doesn't undercut the chain of command in any way. In the end I think it results in us having an even higher-caliber [noncommissioned officer], focused on skills for sergeant, and leadership for staff sergeant."

Those 300 points have been moved to other sections of the promotion-point worksheet, allowing Soldiers to show they have excelled in other areas. The largest increase in points goes toward military training. For promotion to sergeant, Soldiers can now earn a maximum of 340 points for military training. For promotion to staff sergeant, Soldiers can earn 255 points. Previously, that category capped out at 100 points for both ranks.

The points have also gone up for military education, meaning the combined emphasis on military education and training has gone up for both ranks when considering promotability.

Under the current system, for instance, Soldiers seeking E-5 and E-6 earn only 50 percent of their promotion points in military education and military training. In June, that number jumps way up. For those seeking staff sergeant, about 67 percent of their points will come from military training and military education. For those seeking sergeant, that number will be 75 percent

"The Army has an Army training, Army leader-development strategy," Mustion said. "That helps us identify what we need our sergeants and what we need our staff sergeants to do in the Army."

The general said for sergeants, the new system is "calibrated to reflect a Soldier's skills." And for those seeking staff sergeant, the emphasis is on leadership skills.

Included in those training and education points is credit for deployment. Those seeking E-5 can earn up to 30 points for their deployments - two points for each month deployed, up to 15 months. For those seeking E-6, that number is even higher. They can earn a total of 60 points for up to 30 months deployed.

That's "to recognize the development and the education and experience that's gained by our Soldiers and NCOs in those environments," Mustion said.

One major change under the new system - a change that will likely change many Soldier's points: No points will be awarded for correspondence sub-course completion. Instead, Soldiers can only earn points for finishing a course in its entirety.

Some Soldiers will see a decline in points, Mustion said. But The Army will still promote as many Soldiers as it needs.

"We'll see a significant reduction in the number of Soldiers that max out their points, which is a problem we have now," Mustion said. "While the promotion points that our Soldiers have will decline, so will the promotion cutoff. We'll still promote about the same number of Soldiers.

Another change in Soldier promotion in June is that a Soldier's calculation-point worksheet will be automatically calculated from information already in electronic Army databases.

"No longer will we have to go through the re-evaluation re-computation that we've done for many, many years," Mustion said, saying that the manual calculation process is gone. "As soon as a Soldier makes a change and it gets posted to the personnel and training system, the promotion points get recalculated. You'll be able to go in and see your promotion points went from 700 to 710, based on completing a course, or receiving an award."

There are multiple databases the promotion-point worksheet draws on, Mustion said. Included among those is the Total Army Personnel database and the Army Training and Resource System. With automation of the promotion-point worksheet, there's increased responsibility on the Soldiers to ensure their information is accurate.

"(It's the) Soldier's responsibility to make sure that his awards, his assignment history, his military and civilian schooling, and all the military training he's received are accurately reflected in the personnel system, as well as in the Army training system," Mustion said.

Soldiers can ensure their information is accurate by using the Personnel Electronic Records Management System online, or by visiting their S-1 shop, Mustion said.

"We encourage Soldiers to go visit their battalion and brigade S-1 shops and sit down with them and look at their Enlisted Record Brief and make sure it accurately reflects their career," he said.

The Army will implement the new promotion-point system June 1. Mustion said Soldiers should start checking their records for accuracy now.

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