Uncle Sam Short on Sergeants

Automatic promotions are turning battlefield into a classroom, soldiers say
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2008 2:26 PM CDT
In this July 9, 2008 file photo, U.S. Army soldiers from Charlie Battery, Fires Squadron, Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment prepare to search a classroom in Qubah.    (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
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(Newser) – The US Army, plagued by a shortage of non-commissioned officers, has lowered the bar for promotion so much that it has produced sergeants who are not ready to lead, Salon reports in an investigation of a military stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In some cases, soldiers have been automatically promoted although their unit commanders had found them not ready for advancement.

The wave of unqualified promotions has led to problems in combat operations, Salon reports, as an automatic promotion policy soldiers call “paper boarding,” started in 2005, has been expanded. The promotions have turned the battlefield into a classroom, one soldier says: “They have their sergeant rank, and they still have a lot to learn.” A Pentagon official said in many cases, the automatically promoted soldiers were already dispensing the duties of NCOs.