SHARE

The Army is eliminating 346 hours of online courses that soldiers were required to complete in order to be promoted, the Sergeant Major of the Army announced Wednesday.

Active duty, Reserve and National Guard officers and NCOs were previously required to take online courses before becoming eligible for promotion. On Wednesday, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael R. Weimer said in a post on X that the Distributed Learning Courses I-VI would be “discontinued effective immediately.” 

“We are scrubbing everything we are asking our soldiers to study, because there is only so much time during the day to do your job, for your personal development, and for your family,” Weimer said in a statement. “We have added to the point of creating redundancies in distance learning, online learning, brick and mortar learning, self-study learning, what the units are teaching, what the leadership inside units are teaching, and we are overwhelming people.”

The decision came after the Army Chief of Staff directed the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command in October 2023 to review options to eliminate or reduce online training requirements for soldiers attending Professional Military Education courses.

“After careful consideration and a lot of analysis, the Army determined that there would be little to no negative impact to resident NCO PME learning outcomes if all six levels of the DLC were discontinued,” the Army said in a release. “We must drive change for our Army in contact and strive for efficiencies in order to continue building our Army of 2030-2040.”

The courses were considered burdensome by many but focused on a range of topics specific to the service like squad drills, Army doctrine, land operations, map reading/land navigation and soldier readiness. It also included lessons on leadership, problem solving, the law of armed conflict, reducing stress, public speaking, transition to civilian life, grammar and writing skills.

Many enlisted soldiers complained that nearly all those skills — from field skills like navigation to office-culture areas like stress management — were covered in the in-person NCO academies.

“We have to do some subtraction to make sure what we are teaching in all those areas is quality, not quantity. We have not looked at all these requirements holistically in years,” Weimer said.

Subscribe to Task & Purpose today. Get the latest military news and culture in your inbox daily.

The DLC was fielded in 2010 during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a prerequisite to attending NCO Professional Military Education.

The courses were originally designed to fill an educational gap created by the phasing out of the NCO Common Core curriculum which were “backfilled with military occupation specialty specific technical and tactical tasks subjects” in support of operations in the Middle East. 

The result for soldiers appears to be an immediate end to a chore many saw as wasted time. Soldiers working on DLC do not have to complete the training and those who have not yet begun the training will not have to start. 

“Soldiers currently working on the identified courses can stop immediately and those who have not started yet do not need to,” Weimer posted on X.

The Army is also ending the need for officers to complete the Captains Career Course and the Command and General Staff Officers course, also known as ‘P920.’ Virtual training associated with the Advanced Leader Course/Senior Leader Course will continue. 

Wiemer also said that the Army would release policy exceptions on removing the “8K bar” for soldiers flagged for not completing prerequisite DLC training.

The change comes amid other reforms to how the Army promotes NCOs. The Army announced it was ending temporary NCO promotions starting in June and making them permanent to “relieve excessive strain on the force and to meet readiness requirements.”

“Previously, we were training first and that is a prerequisite to get promoted. Now we are promoting and then they will be trained,” Sgt. Maj. Jonathan A. Uribe-Huitron said about the policy change. “We promote based off potential and then ensure they get to train.”

The latest on Task & Purpose