Starting this summer, soldiers will have extra incentive to earn promotions if they plan on eventually retiring from the military.
Effective June 1, soldiers in the Army, Army Reserve and National Guard will see changes in the Army's Retention Control Points program.
Retention control points serve as guide marks in a soldier's career. If a soldier does not reach certain milestones, his time in the military becomes limited.
The changes, announced earlier this year, mean that the maximum time a soldier ranked staff sergeant or lower can serve without being promoted will be lowered by three to five years, depending on the rank.
Officials have said the changes could affect nearly 400,000 enlisted soldiers.
Master Sgt. Dustin Williams, who works in the retention office for Task Force Bragg, said the changes will help eliminate stagnation within the Army, leading to a better, more quality force.
"It feeds into the development of our force," Williams said, referring to the retention control points as one of several strength management tools at the Army's disposal. "If you come in as a young private and you do the things you're suppose to do in the Army, then in such and such years you should reach 'X' rank. Otherwise, you're stagnant."
It's not the first time the Army has adjusted the benchmarks.
In past years, retention control points have fluctuated depending on troop needs.
The last change came in late 2008, when the retention control points were adjusted to allow soldiers ranked staff sergeant and above to serve in the Army longer.
Williams, who has been in the military for more than 22 years, said he's aware of at least four adjustments to the retention control points during his career.
"It's not very frequent, but it's not unheard of," Williams said. "It fluctuates."
Williams said it's unclear how many soldiers at Fort Bragg could be affected by the changes, but he said some soldier's ability to go to retirement will undoubtedly be affected.
The biggest impact will be felt by promotable sergeants, Williams said.
Those soldiers, who have met most of the criteria to be promoted to staff sergeant, were once able to serve until their 20th year, meaning they would be eligible for retirement.
Now, those soldiers will need to be promoted prior to their 15th year or they will not be allowed to re-enlist.
Williams said soldiers who max out at their retention control point will not be forced to separate from the Army if they still have time left on their contracts.
In those cases, the soldier will be allowed to serve until the end of his contractual end of service, he said.
Likewise, soldiers will be limited when they re-enlist because they will not be able to extend their contract past their next retention control point and, per federal law, any soldier who reaches the 18-year mark will be allowed to serve until retirement at year 20.