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    Editorial: A broken promotion system



    Story by Cpl. Jennifer Webster 

    AFN Iwakuni

    Editor's Note: The views expressed in the following entry are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Marine Corps, Department of Defense or the U.S. government.

    “I made the cutting score…”

    Month after month these words are uttered by Marines who have not demonstrated they are leaders or technical experts in their military occupational specialty, or MOS. The coveted status of non-commissioned officer, or NCO in the Marine Corps, is going down the drain. Why? A broken promotion system.

    Promotions to corporal and sergeant are based on a point system. Halfway through the second month of every fiscal quarter, lance corporals and corporals receive a composite score calculated by running numbers through a formula prescribed in MCO1400.32D.

    Composite scores use a combination of time in service, time in grade, rifle score, physical and combat fitness test scores and average in grade proficiency and conduct scores to assign each Marine an individual score. In addition, bonus points (up to 100 points per category) are awarded for education, special duties, recruiting and as a reenlistment incentive.

    During the third month of the fiscal quarter, the Marine Corps announces a cutting score for promotion to corporal or sergeant in every career field. If a Marine’s composite score is above the cutting score for his rank or MOS, that Marine is promoted on the first day of the following month.

    It’s that simple. This system does not promote the best; it promotes those who manage to get the most points.

    “I honestly feel like based on MOS’ composite scores, some Marines pick up rank a lot faster than others,” said Cpl. Jessica Quezada, a Marine awaiting to make the composite score for sergeant. “Marines are promoted based on what looks good on paper rather than the Marine themselves. It puts them in a sink or swim situation. If they sink, they aren’t just sinking themselves, but their entire shop and the junior Marines they are expected to lead.”

    This system does not promote the best; it promotes those who manage to get the most points.

    So why is that an issue? Up until fiscal year 2016, the Marine Corps was dropping Marines left and right.

    According to Marine Corps Times article, “Corps’ budget temporarily halts drawdown,” early release, retirements, and forced separations became the new norm as the Marine Corps dealt with a smaller budget. Then last year, Marine officials revised the numbers coming to the conclusion that the Corps could hold fast at 182,000 personnel, but what if they hadn’t revised the budget?

    In 2014, the Marine Corps was preparing to shed an additional 8,000 Marines. The drawdown was expected to leave the Corps with just 174,000 Marines by 2017.

    So who gets to stay in and who gets the short end of the stick? That’s simple; rank has its privileges, right? The higher a Marine’s rank, the longer he can stay in the Marine Corps. A lance corporal can’t stay in as long as a corporal who can’t stay in as long as a sergeant who can’t stay in as long as a staff sergeant and so on and so forth.

    What sense does it make deciding who gets to stay and who has to leave based on a system that doesn’t focus on retaining leaders and technical experts in their respective job fields? Before you know it, you have staff noncommissioned officers who don’t have the technical skills to perform basic tasks trying to lead non-commissioned officers, who don’t know their left from their right. Let alone know how to lead. It’s a never ending cycle.

    At the end of the day, the promotion system is still broken and Marines will be promoted whether their ready or not putting them in what Quezada said is a “sink or swim situation.” We still have non-commissioned officers trying to lead the blind when they don’t know how to carry themselves in a respectable manner. It won’t be a quick fix or an easy task, but the Marine Corps needs to, at least, consider revising the way we promote the leaders we are expected to follow.



    Date Taken: 12.21.2015
    Date Posted: 12.30.2015 23:28
    Story ID: 185503

    Web Views: 114
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