In Reshaping the Force, Marines Let Officers Skip Promotion Boards

U.S. Marines salute during a promotion ceremony
U.S. Marines salute during a formation to recognize Marines being awarded and promoted on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Sept 4, 2012. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jamean Berry)

The Marine Corps has announced another policy change in its effort to reshape the service by 2030: Officers will now be allowed to opt out of promotion boards in an effort to give them a chance to pursue less traditional career paths.

An administrative message released Wednesday announced that eligible officers will be able to opt out of major, lieutenant colonel and colonel promotion boards in the 2024 fiscal year.

The message says that Marines who are in-zone or above-zone for promotion, but who previously were not eligible to be promoted, are able to opt out, giving them an extra year to hit career milestones.

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The Talent Management 2030 Plan, released in November 2021, explained that the Corps' current, rigid promotion model leads officers to be "disincentivized from pursuing unconventional career experiences or education that may yield long-term benefits, but which takes them off track for key billets."

The goal, at the time, was to create an "opt-out option [that] would enable Marines to pursue opportunities otherwise deemed too 'risky' including extended educational programs."

Officers who want to take advantage of the new plan must "not have previously failed selection for promotion to the grade requesting exclusion;" be within height and weight standards; and have "no outstanding investigations, pending legal matters, or in-grade adverse material," according to the message.

The policy noted that some examples of these now-incentivized experiences include foreign professional military education, congressional fellowships, and tours with industry. Marines are also encouraged to become full-time graduate students or Olmsted scholars.

The deputy commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, currently Lt. Gen. David Ottignon, will make the final decision on all opt-out requests.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the identity of the deputy commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

Related: The Corps' New Plan Aims to Treat Marines 'Like Human Beings Instead of Inventory'

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