The U.S. Army is facing scrutiny after reports emerged that approximately 10,000 noncommissioned officers (NCOs) have retained their promotions over the past two years despite not completing the requisite military education and training academies. This situation arises from an initial promotion of 52,000 NCOs under a temporary policy during the pandemic, as reported by Fox News Digital.
The Army’s initial plan was to revoke promotions from NCOs who failed to complete the required schooling within a year. However, practical challenges, such as scheduling conflicts and limited availability in certain military courses, have complicated this process. Some courses can take up to a month to complete, creating logistical hurdles for units and individuals alike.
An Army spokesperson conveyed to Fox News Digital, “We are carefully evaluating all soldiers who were promoted under the STEP policy exceptions. Our focus is on ensuring fairness and consideration for our soldiers while aligning with policy changes. We are committed to rectifying any actions that contradict the suspension of the STEP policy.”
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Weimer commented on the situation, stating, “Our primary objective is to safeguard the career progress of our soldiers, particularly from elements beyond their control. We’re dedicated to informing all relevant parties, including commanders, units, and the soldiers themselves, about these policy changes to ensure no one is unfairly impacted.”
In September, the Army announced plans to reinstate the “Select, Train, Educate and Promote” policy by January, which would have required NCOs to complete training before promotion. However, this decision was reversed in December, leaving the reinstatement of the policy uncertain.
The broader context includes a 2022 report by Military.com, highlighting a troubling trend among young Americans. The study revealed that “A significant proportion of young Americans, specifically those between 17 and 24, are currently ineligible for military service without specific waivers. The primary disqualifying factors include being overweight, substance abuse, and various health issues.” This study was conducted by the Pentagon’s Office of Personnel and Readiness.
As the Army navigates these complex issues, the focus remains on maintaining fair and effective policies that respect the needs and challenges of its service members.