Army Grade Determination Review BoardNovember 16, 2020
The Army Grade Determination Review Board is governed by Army Regulation 15-80, available at this link. Essentially, the board functions to make grade determinations on behalf of the Secretary of the Army. The Board's objective is to determine the highest rank/grade a Soldier or Officer served satisfactorily in. The Board's decision affects the separation or retirement pay of the Soldier/Officer in question.
Typically, Officers and NCOs are automatically retired/separated in their highest grade held; however, this is not always the case. The process is different for enlisted Soldiers and Officers.
Unlike for Officers, the Army Grade Determination Review Board cannot reduce an enlisted Soldier's rank that they hold the day they retire or separate. If an enlisted Soldier was reduced to a lower grade, owing to misconduct, at an Article 15 or Court-Martial, he/she will typically not be separated/retired at their highest grade held. In these cases, he/she will likely be retired or separated at their current grade instead. Additionally, NCOs who are pending separation under AR 635-200, paragraph 14-12c, who request to be retired in lieu of separation, can be reduced before having their retirement approved. This process is explained more at this link. However, for NCOs requesting a normal retirement, without a pending separation, he/she will most likely be retired in their current grade.
There are provisions for enlisted Soldiers, and in some cases Warrant Officers, who were separated or retired, to apply for an advancement in grade. Generally, if an enlisted Soldier is retired or separated at a lower grade than they once held, they should review AR 15-80, chapter 3, and discuss any application they are considering with a military lawyer.
Officers, however, can be reduced in grade from the one they hold on the day that they retire or separate. If there is information available that indicates that he/she did not serve in their highest grade satisfactorily, his/her case will be referred to the Army Grade Determination Review Board. This typically happens when an Officer was the subject of a substantiated AR 15-6 investigation, received a GOMOR, was found guilty at an Article 15, received a referred OER, had misconduct substantiated at a Board of Inquiry, etc.
The Board considers, typically, the following factors when making their determination:
- Medical reasons that may have mitigated any substandard performance or misconduct
- Any compassionate circumstances
- The length of any otherwise satisfactory service in the grade in question, before and after the misconduct
- Performance level
- Nature and severity of any misconduct
- The grade at which the misconduct was committed
- The grade at which the misconduct was addressed by the proper authorities
The above analysis will be conducted for all grades. For example, just because a LTC did not serve satisfactorily at that rank does not mean he/she will be automatically retired as a MAJ. The analysis for the rank of MAJ will also be conducted.
The Army Grade Determination Review Board will consider anything in a Soldiers Official Military Record (OMPF). If anything outside of the OMPF is considered, it will be referred to the Soldier in question for review and comment, unless the Soldier has previously been provided the evidence or the Soldier is known to possess it.
Before the Board can consider any evidence at all, the Soldier in question will be notified and given the opportunity to submit matters in writing for the board to consider. Typically, a Soldier in this situation is given 30 days to respond.
The Army Grade Determination Review Board is composed of military Officers senior in rank to and in at least a grade equal to the highest grade held by the individual whose grade is being considered. Furthermore, at least one member of the Board will be at least one grade higher than the highest grade held by the individual whose grade is being considered. Soldiers/Officers are not allowed to appear in person before the Board.
If the Army Grade Determination Review Board makes a determination that the Soldier thinks is an error or is unjust, he/she can appeal that decision to the Army Board of Corrections of Military Records, using DD Form 149.
Any Soldier going through the Army Grade Determination Review Board process, or who is considering appealing a decision, should consult with a military lawyer to give them the best chance for success.
This Article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry.