Attrition: The Return Of The Professional Private


December 4,2008: The U.S. Army is easing its long held "up or out" policy. This was a post-World War II rule that forced officers and enlisted personnel to leave the service if they were not promoted within a certain number of years. Long criticized as leading to the loss of NCOs or officers who were very good at the rank they were at, and worth keeping at that rank, the new rules are in response to the need to retain senior NCOs as the army expands its size about 20 percent.

Senior NCOs (E-6 through E-9) can now stay in uniform an additional two or three years. Most interesting is the change that allows the lowest ranking troops (E-2 and E-3) to stay in for up to eight years. This is not as odd as it sounds, as before the "up or out" rules, there were many "professional privates" (men who were excellent soldiers, but had little NCO potential). Now the professional privates are returning.

Other rules changes allow for troops to re-enlist for up to eight years (up from six) and stay in uniform up to age 62 (up from 60.)


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