ARLINGTON, VA -- (Army News Service, April 21, 2008) - The Army's automatic list integration policy has now been extended to include promotions to staff sergeant.

The original ALI policy of 2005 prepared Soldiers at the specialist level for promotion to the next rank, said Sgt. Maj. Tom Gills, chief of the Enlisted Promotions Branch at Human Resources Command. He said ALI helped provide those who were not recommended for promotion with the means to meet promotion requirements, especially for military occupational specialties that had junior NCO shortages.

As of April 1, ALI has been extended to include sergeants preparing for promotion to staff sergeant and Gills said ALI still focuses on the training and development of the Soldier.

"The fundamental purpose of the policy is to ensure our future leaders are trained and ready for the next grade. Both the sergeant and staff sergeant ALI policies enforce a long-standing requirement that any Soldier who is fully eligible for recommendation for promotion and who is not recommended receives counseling concerning that fact and is provided the things needed to gain a recommended status and appear before a board," said Gills.

Gills emphasized that ALI is an enforcement of current policies and procedures for promotion. Commanders retain the ability to recommend a Soldier be promoted or to deny recommendation. Soldiers in the primary zone for promotion who are not recommended must be counseled why they were not.

"Soldiers who have been fully eligible for a year must be counseled, and the commander must make a conscious decision of whether that Soldier will be recommend for ALI or not. The expectation is that they will also take a hard look to ensure appropriate training and development plans are in place to give that Soldier the best chance for success if they elect not to recommend them for Automatic List Integration," said Gills.

Once placed on ALI, an immediate promotion is not guaranteed, Gills said.

"A Soldier will not be promoted under ALI until every single boarded Soldier in his MOS has been promoted. If there is still a vacancy after that, we will promote only the most senior of those individuals on the ALI until all the vacancies are filled," said Gills.

The rigid standards of ALI ensure Soldiers of experience and quality will attain promotions, and those with less experience or specialized training will receive the development needed to attain a promotion recommendation, Gills said.

Another positive benefit of the policy is MOS shortages of noncommissioned officers can be filled efficiently with the best-qualified Soldier, Gills said.

"When specialist to sergeant ALI was implemented, there were 30 STAR MOS's or so, and two years later there are 10 - -a very positive byproduct of the program," said Gills.

The Army's extended ALI policy targets sergeants in all MOSs who have not yet appeared before a promotion board, but who have been on active duty over six years and have spent at least 11 months as an E-5.

Currently, there are 15 to 20 staff sergeant STAR MOS's on average. Potential staff sergeants on the ALI number in the thousands.

As of April 1, Soldiers can be automatically list integrated if their MOS drops to less than 100 percent of the authorized staff sergeant strength and not enough Soldiers have gone through the board selection process.