The Army’s Select-Train-Educate-Promote policy has expanded the emphasis on military specialist preparation and the rewards that can be reaped. Promoting soldiers based on the completion of separate courses is an exemplary technique to ensure continued career growth in the Army. For one to be elevated to a higher level, courses such as the Basic Warrior Course, Advanced Leader Course, and Senior Leader Course are mandatory. In addition, the recent emphasis on adding APFT promotion points to encourage health and well-being has seen changes in language skills, civilian education, and firearms skills. The Army, therefore, plays a critical role in providing career opportunities for soldiers and formulating policies that can support a capable force.
Select-Train-Educate-Promote (Army Step Program)
The Select-Educate-Promote (STEP) is a policy representing the investment of the army in the professional military education (PME) of soldiers through a continuous, deliberate and progressive process. The Army has permitted conditional promotions for soldiers since the 1980s where they obtain their stripes without completing the corresponding PME. In 2008, the Army set a standard that required the master sergeants to partake the Sergeant Major Course before gaining eligibility for promotion to sergeant majors (U.S. Army, 2015). In January 2016, the Army expanded this standard for promotion eligibility to NCO (Noncommissioned officers) ranks by demanding that all soldiers complete the appropriate formal military education level to be fully qualified for the positions. For instance, the promotion to a sergeant requires one to complete the Basic Warrior Course. The staff sergeant needs to have completed the Advanced Leader Course while the sergeant first class need to have completed a Senior Leader Course. Any deferment requests need to be made to the HRC (Human Resources Command) by a general officer and the alternative dates for training provided (Tice, 2016).
Following these educational requirements, the Army scrapped off the promotion points to these leadership courses and added them to the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) to promote health and wellness. It added points to language proficiency, weapon qualification, and doubled points in civilian education to enable young NCOs and soldiers to grow into creative and critical thinkers (Koester, 2016). Notably, the Army has established an organizational framework NCOPDS (Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development System) to develop a generation of committed and competent NCOs (U.S. Army, 2015). This framework will ensure that the stripes are not just an indicator of the rank or pay of a soldier but rather an indicator of the NCO having received adequate training as a leader.
The STEP program is vital to the Army because it enhances the talent management system. The system ensures NCOs are adequately prepared and developed to fight and emerge victorious in a complex world as agile leaders, adaptive and trusted professionals. Furthermore, Army leadership supports the fact that education provides personally, emotionally, intellectually and academically challenging experiences for learning (U.S. Army, 2015). Linking this NCO Education System and structured self-development to subsequent promotion can help the Army to better prepare NCOs for the current complexities of the operational environment as it reinforces the benefits of a continuous and progressive strategy of professional development (Tice, 2016). The army is therefore committed to ensuring the provision of full career opportunities for soldiers to achieve their highest potential and promote Army readiness. Moreover, it continually takes part in formulating policies that sustain and support a ready and high-capable force.
Koester, J. (2016). STEP’ s Education Requirements Lead to Changes in Promotion Points Worksheet. NCO Journal. http://ncojournal.dodlive.mil/2016/02/16/steps-education-requirements-lead-to-changes-in-promotion-points-worksheet/
Tice, J. (2016). New Guidance Helps Soldiers Stay in STEP for Promotion. Army Times. https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2016/03/31/new-guidance-helps-soldiers-stay-in-step-for-promotion/
U.S. Army. (2015). Stand-to! The Official Focus of the U.S. Army. Select-Train-Educate-Promote (STEP). https://www.army.mil/standto/archive_2015-08-24