New Marine Corps mandates will require some enlisted Marines eligible for promotion to appear before promotion review boards this fall in an effort to ensure that the Corps is cultivating the most qualified NCOs possible.
The policy, set in place by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and detailed in Marine Administrative Message (MARADMIN) 200/16, will mean that lance corporals and corporals looking to move up a rank must receive an endorsement from the panel and their commanding officer in order to compete for promotion.
"In order to ensure the Marine Corps promotes only the best and fully qualified to the grades of corporal and sergeant, the Commandant has instituted the requirement for commands to screen promotion eligible Marines for suitability for promotion," reads the MARADMIN.
Marines stationed at the Henderson Hall portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will need to know a few things before appearing before the panels this fall.
"It's going to be a panel comprising staff NCOs and an officer," said Headquarters Company 1st Sgt. Keith Connor. "Hopefully we'll have a subject matter expert of that MOS for that individual Marine who might be able to ask specific questions about how that Marine is performing their duties."
Connor said Marines will have to demonstrate that they have experience and the aptitude to move forward in their careers.
"I don't think he or she has to know who every commandant of the Marine Corps is, or anything like that," he said. "I think it's going to be on how they have performed up to that point, and if they're ready for the next step. It'll have a lot to do with their past performance and their future potential."
Sgt. Maj. Robert Pullen, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall, said noncommissioned officers are vital to the Corps, and the promotional panels will gauge whether a Marine is fit to lead.
"I think the aim, at least from our perspective in H&S Battalion here, is to ensure that Marines are knowledgeable of their MOS, they're mature and they possess the attributes that we desire in our NCOs," Pullen told the Pentagram. "NCOs are the backbone of the Corps, so we really rely on their leadership skills. If you get some NCOs in there that are lacking a little bit in their leadership skills, it can really affect the young Marines."
Pullen also noted that the boards will be looking for more than just test-scores from Marines hoping for promotion.
"It's one thing to just have the score -- to run a great PFT, get all the points you need to get the composite score -- but it's another thing to pin on the blood stripe and lead Marines," he said. "It provides us a good opportunity to make sure the right people are in the right jobs."
Lance corporals and corporals must have completed 12 months in-grade before they are eligible to compete for promotion, an increase from eight months for lance corporals in the past.
"The longer time ensures that Marines have a little bit more time in that rank and have a better opportunity to mature," Pullen said. "Obviously, as Marines we pride ourselves and our young NCOs on being able to adapt and bloom wherever they're planted, so if you're given the opportunity and you get promoted, you're expected to perform. But the extra time I think will do better things for our Corps, and our young NCOs are going to be more prepared."
Furthermore, a non-recommendation for promotion will now be quarterly instead of monthly, so Marines who are non-recommended will have three months to prepare before the next board.
"It gives them a little bit more time, if they are lacking, to overcome those deficiencies and rebuild in those 90 days" Pullen said.
Pullen and Connor encouraged Marines not to be nervous about coming into the boards and to put their best foot forward.
"We understand as leaders that Marines are going to be nervous, especially if they've never been in front of senior staff NCOs and officers before, being asked a series of questions," Connor said. "We'll definitely take that into consideration. Marines don't need to be nervous coming into things like this. It's an opportunity for them to show their capabilities."
Pullen said that at the end of the day, the Corps and the boards will be looking for good, well-rounded Marines who are humble, adaptable and know how to take care of their own.
"Come with a little bit of open-mindedness, because you never know what you're going to be up against," he said. "Nobody gives you all the answers, so we need some critical thinkers too."
If Marines' promotion eligibility runs January through March of 2017, boards will be held no later than Nov. 15.
Those eligible April to June 2017 will have boards by Feb. 15 of that year.
Boards will conclude by May 15, 2017, for those with eligibility between July and September, and on Aug. 15, 2017, for Marines with eligibility between October and December.
To read the MARADMIN, visit http://go.usa.gov/cJxDm.