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Authority for Army Officers to Opt-out of Promotion Boards

Thursday, October 3, 2019

What is it?

A new authorization, granted by Section 505 of the 2019 John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, allows qualified officers to opt-out of their consideration for promotion to complete special assignments, advanced educational opportunities, or pursue required developmental milestones at their current grade level. Officers may opt-out of consideration for one year, up to two times, at each grade level.

This legal authority applies to the Active Army, Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard, however, this policy will first be implemented for the Active Army. The implementation of this new authority is the Army’s first step towards a more flexible and individualized career path for its officers without the constraint of fixed timelines.

Officers may first exercise to opt-out for promotion consideration starting with their first below-the-zone consideration.

What are the current and past efforts of the Army?

The Army is moving away from a time-based promotion system based on the timelines prescribed in the Department of the Army Pamphlets 600-3 for commissioned officer professional development and career management and 600-4 for Army Medical Department officer professional development and career management. These time-based promotion boards could discourage officer participation in opportunities for the greater development of their talents.

Starting with the FY20 Army Competitive Category (ACC) Promotion Board for lieutenant colonels in February, all Active Component majors who are eligible for promotion can request to defer their consideration for promotion. This will allow more time in the officer’s career for developmental experiences which may have been delayed due to their special assignments or educational opportunities at their current grade.

This policy supports the Army’s adaptation of its officer management system, using a talent-based approach which optimizes recruiting, accessions, job experiences, professional and personal development, education, coaching, and retention through deliberate alignment with an individual’s talents and preferences.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned?

The Army will implement the opt-out policy in future boards which will be determined at a later date. The Army will continue to examine the use of individualized career timelines to develop officers for future career progression according to their individual talents.

Why is this important to the Army?

The new authority for Army officers to opt-out of promotion boards supports the Army’s Officer Talent Management focus. This authority allows qualified officers to defer their consideration to gain professional development and enhance their talents. The Army defines talent as the unique intersection of Knowledge, Skills, Behaviors, and Preferences (KSB-Ps) in every person.


Related MILPER messages: CAC log in required

Related STAND-TO!:

Related document:

  • [DA Pamphlet 600-3; Commissioned Officer Professional Development and Career Management] (

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