The Master Sergeant promotion list just came out, and it has many confused about what they are even looking at. The list seems to raise more questions than answers: What does Most Qualified (MQ) mean? Am I getting promoted? How do I read the list?

This article is geared to better explain the list and not stir up the mud even more.

Roughly 2,000 Special Forces soldiers were considered for promotion to the rank of Master Sergeant. That’s a large pool of men that generally have the same schools, deployments, and awards.

What is Most Qualified (MQ)? 

If you’re looking at the list and on the far right side it says MQ, that means you are in the top five percent for your Career Management Field (CMF). Congrats. However, this does not mean you’ll be promoted this go around. Conversely, just because you do not have an MQ next to your name, that doesn’t mean you won’t be promoted either.

We do not know the target number for MSG promotions that HRC has come up with.

This makes it almost impossible to forecast who will be getting promoted. Additionally, this makes it very difficult for senior leaders to assign positions for those they are projecting to be promoted.

Where do I find my Order of Merit List (OML) number?

Your OML is located on the Army Career Tracker (ACT) page. You’ll need a username and password or your CAC to get in. Once in, go to “TRACK” on the left column, then “OML LIST.”

Now here is where the unknown comes into play since nobody knows how many the Army will promote.

The last promotion board promoted the top six percent for Special Forces. Will this happen again? 

We can guesstimate that because the last list was just six percent and considered small, this list will be much more extensive. If the Army promotes six percent again and we do some basic math — which I highly discourage in public — we can assume just over 100 guys will be promoted.

If you ask too many questions, you’ll most likely get blank stares because honestly, at the Group level, everyone is still scratching their heads trying to figure out what the Wizard of Oz logic is to all this craziness.

What is needed to get promoted in Special Forces?

The age-old question. Does it require a degree, a skill level one school, ASOT, a 2/2 in language, or what the heck could they possibly want now? We can say with some confidence that you will need at minimum a skill level one school, such as Military Freefall (MFF), to be a jumpmaster and a 1/1 in your target language.

However, I know guys at group right now with three skill level one schools, a 1/1 in their language, that are jumpmaster qualified, have been to SWC as an instructor, have a degree, and have been holding an MSG position for quite some time with just 15 years in service. But when they look up their OML, it’s 750, and they can almost guarantee they will not be picked up.

So what’s the magic formula? Great question. And you should consider that sitting on the board aren’t just SF guys. You may have guys that have never worked with SF and have no clue what they are looking at when they look at an SF guy’s records.

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One good thing is that through a policy instituted on January 1, soldiers deployed to combat will be able to temporarily be promoted to the ranks of sergeant through sergeant major before completing the mandatory professional military education courses. For the rest of you, get your butts to the Master Leader Course (MCL) asap if in the top 10 percent of the OML.

Should lower-level leaders have more say? Should the Group Command have a trump card to stop some guys from being promoted?

Let’s be honest, we have all met the grey man with all the right schools who got promoted. Now he’s expected to be a leader on a team, and their new ODA dreads it when he walks in that first day. Should the Group Command have a say? Maybe so. However, I believe this may cause some seriously biased decisions to be made. Say the SFC on the team once got into an argument with the SGM over something minuscule years ago, and now they have a grudge. Should said SFC still be penalized because he can influence the Group CSM? Maybe not.

So how do we stop the grey man from getting promoted? My thought is to be more honest when we do our evaluations. Not everyone is fantastic, plain and simple. Let’s do some creative writing and be honest with each other. Let’s make sure the right guys are getting a top block at the right time. The first or second look may not be the best time to top block a guy. As you may know, officers can only top block so many guys on their evaluation profile.

S0 hopefully, this article made a little bit of sense and didn’t further muddy the water. It would be great to have some good conversations in the comments section below.

Congratulations to those that will pin the rank of Master Sergeant this year!