The plan to overhaul the military personnel system that Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday would end the “one-size-fits-all” promotion system for military officers and clear the way for far more diverse options in military career tracks.
For the first time, Carter said he will ask Congress to change key pieces of the “up-or-out” rules for officer promotions and fundamentally place more emphasis on merit rather than seniority. The reforms would clear the way for some troops to pursue nontraditional career paths and for high-performers to climb the ranks more rapidly.
In effect, the Pentagon is asking for Congress to surrender some control over the officer promotion system that lawmakers essentially seized more than 30 years ago with the federal law known as the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act, or DOPMA.
The impact of the reforms would vary greatly among the service branches, various career fields and individual troops. It remains unclear how widespread the changes might be implemented.