In a new move to develop leaders within the U.S. Army, all junior enlisted soldiers must now be a corporal before promotion to sergeant per a recently released statement. This change began July 1st for active duty members and October 1st for reservists.
Prior to July 1st, soldiers were given the rank of corporal when they were identified as leaders. The rank of corporal conferred the responsibilities of a noncommissioned officer (NCO), identifying those individuals as being prepared to lead their peers. Corporals were not a common rank, instead, they were more Specialists. With the change, any soldier with the rank of specialist will be laterally promoted to the rank of corporal if they had been recommended for advancement/promotion and completed the Basic Leader Course (BLC). Also, current corporals will need to qualify for the promotion and have completed BLC or be laterally reassigned the rank of specialist. There is no pay change with corporal as it is considered an E4 rank, the same as a specialist. However, the rank of Corporal outranks Specialists as a Corporal is considered an NCO.
Within the statement from the U.S. Army, Sgt. Maj. Kenyatta Gaskins, Directorate of Military Personnel Management sergeant major, stated that “This is a junior leader development process and that’s how we’re looking at this.”
Sgt Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston began the initiative “This is My Squad” to work on building cohesion within units and empower NCOs. This change in ranking falls in line with this initiative. In regards to the change in promotions, Grinston stated “We rely on junior leads to build cohesive teams that are highly trained, disciplined, and mentally and physically fit. In many cases, a specialist is charged with that responsibility. This allows us to recognize their role as noncommissioned officer and ensure they’re getting the coaching and mentorship they need to be successful.”
In addition, beginning June 1, 2022, all active duty soldiers attending BLC must be recommended for promotion to sergeant. This goes into effect for reservists on October 1, 2022.
The time in rank as a Corporal will differ per military specialty. No matter the specialty, this change is intended to be a visible reminder of the focus on leadership within the Army’s ranks.