The U.S. Army is running a one year experiment in awarding battlefield
promotions to sergeant (E-5) or staff sergeant (E-6) ranks. For infantry units,
E-5s usually lead a team (4-5 troops) while E-6s are squad leaders (9-13
troops). Armored vehicle commanders are E-5s or E-6s. Military Police (MP)
units have E-5s and E-6s leaders the same number of troops as infantry units.
troops have to meet educational and time-in-grade rules, appear before review
boards and generally jump through a lot of hoops to get promoted to E-5 or E-6.
Not so for the battlefield promotions, which can be accomplished almost
instantly. Well, there is still some paperwork involved, but it gives battalion
and company commanders a morale building tool for troops demonstrating
leadership ability. That's because, it's always been the case that, when there
are casualties, someone has to step up and replace lost team or squad leaders. These
men (or women, in MP units) serve in the position without the higher rank, or
pay that goes with it. That's bad enough, but in some cases, the acting team or squad leader finds himself later losing
that temporary promotion to someone who looked better on paper.
Enlisted Battlefield Promotion will attempt to solve a lot of these problems by
identifying those with a natural talent for battlefield leadership, and giving
prompt recognition, This program is not a substitute for valor awards, but
strictly to quickly recognize exceptional leadership skills.