The FY12 Sergeant First Class (SFC) Promotion Selection Board convened at the Secretariat for DA Selection Boards, Fort Knox, Kentucky, on 31 January 2012 to select the best qualified Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs) for promotion to SFC. Soldiers and NCOs can use this document to plot their own progress, and prepare for future promotion boards.
Board Issues and Observations.
a. DA Photo.
(1) This is your introduction and “handshake” with the Board. Typically the first document viewed by a board member, the photo is an indicator of professionalism and military bearing. Old or missing photos, with the exception of those Soldiers who were deployed or otherwise unable to take a photo (for example Warriors in Transition), created doubt about the fitness and military appearance of the Soldier. AR 640-30 requires Soldiers to take a photograph within 60 days of promotion to Staff Sergeant, every 5th year, and as needed for selection boards.
(2) The Board recommends updating photos whenever there are changes to the uniform (e.g. rank, awards, and service stripes), even if the current photo is less than five years old. While recognizing that file preparation to include the photo is largely an individual responsibility, the Board recommends that senior NCO leaders check the
photo to ensure correct placement of awards, badges, and insignia, to verify that only authorized awards are worn (unit citations earned by the individual, no green tabs, etc.), and that the Army Service or Class A Uniform is worn, not the Army Dress Blue Uniform.
b. Board Enlisted Record Brief (ERB).
(1) Board members rely on the ERB as a tool to quickly gain an accurate snapshot depiction of an NCO’s overall assignment and deployment history, key duty positions held (particularly positions in the next higher rank), awards, physical readiness, and civilian/military schooling. The physical layout of the dual screen computer system
used by board members allows a voting member to always have the ERB visible on one screen while reviewing the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) on the second screen.
(2) The Board recommends that Soldiers competing for promotion place emphasis on updating their ERB in preparation for the board. A clear assignment history listing accurate duty positions and elimination of redundant entries such as “incoming personnel” allows board members to rapidly evaluate progression and assignment to key developmental positions. For clarity, duty titles and time spent in position on the NCOER and ERB should match.
c. NCO Evaluation Report (NCOER). The NCOER remains the best tool available to board members when identifying the top performers. Those NCOs who showed a pattern of consistent excellent performance as documented by raters and senior raters were recognized as the best qualified. Clear, concise, fully justified examples of excellence with quantifiable accomplishments were readily recognized by the Board, as was consistency of message, positive or negative, by the rater and senior rater. In identifying the best of the best, senior raters who enumerated and wrote with enthusiasm made a significant difference in forming a picture of the Soldier. Reviewers must fulfill their responsibility to ensure the evaluation rendered by the Rater and Senior Rater is clear, consistent, and just.
d. DA Form 1059 (Academic Evaluation Report (AER)). School performance counts. The AER is another key, albeit perhaps an underappreciated evaluation tool. Performance at NCOES is an indicator of potential, initiative, and professionalism. The board placed credence on the unbiased evaluation of performance, height, weight, and fitness found in the AER. Excellence as documented by exceeding course standards, achieving the Commandant’s List, and recognition as an honor graduate or leadership award recipient reflected favorably in the eyes of the Board. Conversely, marginal ratings or dismissal from a course was a negative discriminator. NCOs seeking military training such as Battle Staff, Airborne, Air Assault and other such specialized courses which are developmental within each career field are considered to be demonstrating a desire to stand-out from their peers and are considered favorably.
e. Education. The board favorably considered those Soldiers who demonstrated commitment to lifetime learning and self-development through the pursuit of civilian education and military courses. The board considered the milestones set forth in DA PAM 600-25 in assessing an NCO’s level of civilian education and appropriately factored the achievements of those who met or exceeded those gates.
f. My Board file. NCOs appearing before the Board must take advantage of the opportunity to review their record on line using the My Board file tool. Board members see who has made the effort to review their file, who has acknowledged working actions in the file, and those who simply did not demonstrate the professionalism to conduct a review. Most important are the actions taken to correct deficiencies in the file.
g. Assignment history.
(1) Regardless of assignment, manner of performance is the fundamental factor in assessing the Soldier. While service in positions which demonstrate competency in core functions is the foundation of leader development, the most competitive NCOs demonstrated sustained excellence in every position held. The Board universally agreed that NCOs do have the opportunity to serve in a variety of challenging positions in both the Generating and Operating Force. The result is we are developing highly adaptive, proficient and capable NCOs.
(2) The Board considered manner of performance in a variety of units and duty locations in both deployed and garrison environments. Those NCOs who demonstrated exceptional performance in tough assignments received favorable consideration.
h. Letters to the President of the Board. Judicious submissions of letters to the Board were received favorably, and the Board recommends continued education to the field about this opportunity. Concise letters which clarified missing information in the board file, highlighted recent achievements which were undocumented in the record, or that highlighted honorary accomplishments such as induction into the Audie Murphy Club were helpful to board members. Letters which attempt to explain previous negative evaluation reports or acts of indiscipline may not carry the message Soldiers intended to send.