Army Officer Promotion Rates Returning to Normal

The US Army is returning to a peacetime mindset, which means promotions will cease to be automatic for anyone willing to endure service.

The US Army is returning to a peacetime mindset, which means promotions will cease to be automatic for anyone willing to endure service.

Army Times (“Army scaling back officer promotion rates“):

Officer promotion rates are headed for a sharp downturn after a decade of record-high selection levels, according to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno.

In a recent memo to senior leaders, Odierno said the Army is preparing to return to the selection opportunity levels that were in place before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those were 90 percent selection opportunity for promotion to captain, 80 percent for major, 70 percent for lieutenant colonel and 50 percent for colonel.

“In some instances, we may see promotion rates below these targets to correctly size and shape year groups,” Odierno said. “This will be a departure from the very high promotion rates of the past decade.”

Selection opportunity is calculated by dividing the number of primary-zone candidates by the total number of above-zone, primary-zone and below-zone officers selected by a board.

From 2001 through 2010, selection opportunity for advancement to colonel in the Army Competitive Category averaged 64 percent, while the select rate for officers in the primary zone averaged 54 percent. During the same period, selection opportunity averaged 100 percent for lieutenant colonel and 108 percent for major. Primary-zone select rates averaged 84 percent for lieutenant colonel and 94 percent for major.

For those in my cohort, Year Group 1988, which along with groups on either side of us bore the brunt of the post-Cold War drawdown, it was quite literally harder to make captain than it was to make bird colonel. Promotion was all but automatic for those who refrained from committing criminal acts. On the other hand, most of those officers have a chest full of medals befitting a Latin American field marshal because they spent more time deployed to global hotspots than with their families.
via Jeremiah Cushman

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. superdestroyer says:

    I wonder when the DoD will start having separation boards. The Obama Administration wants to use the current DoD budget to pay off core blocks of the Democratic Party and the fastest way to generate those funds is to lower head count in the DoD.