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Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant

 

Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant

Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps

Officer Promotions

The Marine Corps is required by statute and Department of Defense policy to only promote our “best and fully qualified” officers which conform to the exemplary conduct requirements of 10 U.S.C. Section 5947.  Selection boards utilize all information authorized by law in order to select and nominate those officers who best conform to the exemplary conduct standards.  However, potentially adverse information is not always available to promotion boards when they make their promotion recommendation.  Additionally, officers who are already selected and nominated but not yet promoted may commit acts that call into question their suitability for promotion.  In order to ensure that the officers we promote conform to the highest standards of conduct, the Personnel Law Branch, Judge Advocate Division, HQMC (CMC (JPL)) in coordination with Officer Promotions, Manpower Management, M&RA (MMPR-1) manages the officer promotion adverse information process for the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC).

An Overvew of the Post Board Process

The Post Board process begins once a Promotion Board is adjourned.  Upon adjournment of a Promotion Board, a review of investigative files is conducted for those officers selected for promotion for any potentially adverse and/or adverse information.  Officers with either potentially adverse or adverse information are screened for pending or completed administrative and/or disciplinary proceedings.

Pending Administrative and/or Disciplinary Proceedings

Officers with pending administrative and/or disciplinary proceedings will have their promotions withheld or delayed until completion of those proceedings and with receive formal notification of the withhold or delay.

Once the administrative and/or disciplinary proceedings are completed, the officer whose promotion has been withheld or delayed is notified that their promotion case is ripe for action.  At this time, most officers choose to submit matters in support of their promotion cases via their chain of command to JPL.  Once received by JPL, processing timelines vary on a case by case basis; however, JPL follows the same natural progression for most cases.  First, JPL compiles the promotion package.  Next, JPL drafts the allied documents.  Finally, JPL forwards the package to MMPR for routing through the Adverse Material Advisory Board (AMAB).

Completed Administrative and/or Disciplinary Proceedings

Officers with completed administrative and/or disciplinary proceedings will have their promotion case reviewed by the AMAB.  The AMAB will consider the adverse information, command endorsements, and, if submitted, the officer’s matters.  The AMAB will then make a recommendation to CMC to either promote the officer or remove the officer from the promotion list.

The ultimate promotion/removal authority is statutorily based upon the promotion grade and can range from CMC to the President of the United States (POTUS).  The requisite promotion authority will be responsible for making the promotion determination.  MMPR-1 is tasked with the responsibility of making the notification of the promotion determination to the officer’s chain of command.

Command Initiated Delay of Promotions and Warrant Officer Appointments

MCO P1400.31CSECNAVINST 1420.1B, SECNAVINST 1412.6L (for 1stLt Promotions), and SECNAVINST 1412.9B (for LDO and Warrant Officers) provide the authority and grounds for Commanding Officers (CO) to delay an officer’s promotion.  This authority is also outlined in every promotion MARADMIN.  The CO may initiate a delay if he believes that the officer selected for promotion is not mentally, morally, professionally, or physically qualified for promotion and/or when the officer is subject of alleged or recent misconduct not yet reported to HQMC.

Unless impracticable to do, COs should give written notice to an officer or NCO outlining the grounds for the delay before the effective date of the appointment.  If extenuating circumstances exist, oral notification of the promotion delay will suffice as long as written notice is provided as soon as practicable.  This notice must give the officer or NCO the opportunity to make a statement regarding the promotion delay. 

What is Potentially Adverse and/or Adverse Information?

Adverse information includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Sworn charges against an officer received by an officer exercising general court-martial jurisdiction over the officer;
  • An investigation conducted to determine whether disciplinary action of any kind should be brought against the officer;
  • Processing for separation for cause has been initiated;
  • A criminal proceeding in a federal or state court is pending against the officer;
  • There is cause to believe that the officer is mentally, physically, morally, or professionally unqualified as defined by the references: MCO P1400.31C, SECNAVINST 1420.1B, SECNAVINST 1412.6L (for 1stLt Promotions), and SECNAVINST 1412.9B (for LDO and Warrant Officers);
Withhold versus Delay

What is the difference between a promotion that has been withheld and a promotion that has been delayed?

An officer’s promotion is considered “withheld” when the officer’s name, who the board recommended for promotion, is removed from the list prior to the promotion message being published.  Officers who are withheld from the promotion list must go through the AMAB process and be approved for promotion by the ultimate promotion/removal authority for that officer’s selected grade.

An officer’s promotion is considered “delayed” when the officer is the subject of adverse materials after a promotion message has been published.  Officers who are withheld from the promotion list must go through the AMAB process and be approved for promotion by the promotion delay/removal authority for that officer’s selected grade (usually CMC or SECNAV).

Practically speaking, promotion delays, once ripe for action, are typically resolved far quicker than a promotion withhold because getting approval to promote a promotion withhold requires that the officer’s name be vetted all the way through the process to the ultimate promotion/removal authority for that officer’s selected grade.

Notification of Withhold or Delay

An officer will be notified by JPL that their promotion is withheld or delayed.  Officers are typically notified of a promotion withhold after the ALNAV is released.  This notice will provide the officer the opportunity to make a statement regarding the promotion withhold or delay.

Completed Administrative and/or Disciplinary Proceedings
What happens after an officer’s misconduct case is closed?

Once the administrative and/or disciplinary proceedings are completed, the officer whose promotion has been delayed or withheld is notified that their promotion case is ripe for action.  At this time, most officers choose to submit matters in support of their promotion cases.  Once JPL is informed of the officer’s intention to submit matters in support of their promotion case, JPL will hold the promotion case opening pending the receipt of the officer’s matters and chain of command endorsements.

The officer has ten (10) days to submit any matters in support of their promotion to their chain of command.  Officers may request additional time to compile their matters for submission.  The officer’s command will endorse the promotion matters submitted and forward the package through the first commanding general in the officer’s chain.  Once complete, the package will be forwarded to JPL.