Peace Time: October 19, 1999


ARMY REVAMPS PROMOTION SYSTEM: The Army has changed the "point system" used to select new buck sergeants and staff sergeants. The system is based on a maximum score of 800 points, divided into six areas (commander ratings, civilian education, military education, awards, military training, and board evaluations). The new system moves points out of the commander and board evaluation areas into areas where the soldier can, by exerting effort, gain more points. Commander ratings was worth 200 points, and is now worth only 150. The problem was that a score of "zero to two hundred" ended up being a score of "zero OR two hundred". If the commander wanted someone promoted, he automatically got at least 197 points. If not, his score was low. Civilian education remains worth 100 points, but the new system makes those points easier to get if the soldier pursues college work and earns an associate degree. Many soldiers felt that the old system just didn't produce enough points to be worth the effort.

Military education increases from 150 points to 200, and those points will be somewhat easier to get. This will encourage corporals and specialists to seek chances for advanced training.
Military awards will increase from 50 points to 100, and a wide array of awards (from certificates of commendation to actual medals) will earn points. Duty as a drill sergeant or recruiter will gain 25 points in this category. It is actually possible by winning numerous awards (e.g., Army Commendation, soldier of the month, recruiting duty, four certificates of commendation, top graduate of NCO class) to earn more than 200 points, but only 200 count. The theory is to provide soldiers with more ways to get these 200 points.

Military training remains worth 100 points, but the new system makes it harder to get them (and rewards those who do the best). The soldier can earn 50 points for weapons qualifications and 50 for physical tests, but the best soldiers get the most points. A passing score of 180 on the physical training test, for example, earns only 5 points, while a score of 290 earns 40 and a score of 300 earns all 50.

Board evaluation points are reduced from 200 to 150. As with Commander Evaluation points, a score of "zero to two hundred" was usually a score of "zero OR two hundred". If a board of senior sergeants felt the soldier should be promoted he (or she) got all 200 points; if not, they got none.
This ended up being a "pass-fail" system. By reducing the number of "pass fail" points from 400 to 300, the Army is giving soldiers a chance to get promotion despite a bad score in one or the other category. --Stephen V Cole

October 18; The US Army ended the fiscal year only 900 soldiers short of its authorized strength; only six months ago it was thought that the Army would end the year short 11,000 troops. The spectacular gain is seen as the result of several factors. Re-enlistments have increased, for reasons which are far from clear. Recruiters brought in more troops than expected, at least partly because younger recruiters were assigned to talk directly to youths about the opportunities, and partly because the enlistment bonus was doubled to $6,000. The number of first-term soldiers who failed to complete their tours was also down sharply.--Stephen V Cole


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