Leadership: Battlefield Promotions

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April 29,2008: 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.

Normally, 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.

The 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.

 


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