Photo by Staff Sgt. Ezekiel Kitandwe

Since 1947, the U.S. military has relied on a system called “up or out” in managing its personnel. While the severity with which it has been applied has swung, pendulum-like, as the nation has repeatedly built up and drawn down the military, the basic idea has remained the same: Get promoted to the next rank within a certain timeframe or be separated from the service.

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