Some junior officers in the Marine Corps will soon have an easier time promoting to the next rank, according to a recent service message.
Beginning in October, first lieutenants, who previously required selection boards to review their files to promote to captain, will instead undergo a paperwork screening process to ensure that they are "fully qualified" to attain the next rank.
The change was announced in a Marine Corps message that stated "for promotion to the grade of captain, a promotion selection board will not be convened." Instead, lieutenants will go through a process called the All-Fully-Qualified-Officers List, or AFQOL, which requires only a screening of official military records.
"The change to an AFQOL allows the Marine Corps to continue selecting fully qualified officers for the rank of captain while simultaneously increasing the number of possible selects and reducing the administrative and financial resources historically allocated for boards," Capt. Sarah Eason, a spokesperson for Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs, told Military.com via email on Dec. 20.
Funds that the Marine Corps is hoping to save on include travel budgets for selection boards and time that is typically allotted for administrative processes. Eason emphasized that the change was not made in response to any increased or decreased changes in officer retention as the Marine Corps, as a whole, looks to retain more Marines.
"There are a variety of reasons for junior officers getting out of the service," Eason said. "The junior officer population is healthy and exit trends for junior officers are similar to other years."
That said, Eason said that the Marine Corps' requirement for captain exceeds what can be produced with the board certification method. So the Corps nixed it to allow the service to retain more captains.
Eason declined to say if this decision would be permanent. The current message is in effect for the 2025 and 2026 fiscal years.
"The Marine Corps continually seeks to improve the promotion and retention processes," she said. "This change will be assessed and refined to ensure it is the best promotion process for Marines and aligns with the needs of the Marine Corps."
Officers who fail to qualify for the AFQOL will not be selected for captain. Officers who intend to separate or retire from the military prior to the board may write the president of the board requesting that they not be selected for promotion, according to the message.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps said that it had met nearly 93% of its first-term enlistment goal for fiscal year 2024, meaning it is well on its way to meeting goals for reenlisting Marines who are on their first contracts.