The Sergeant First Class tie tack features gold three chevrons and two arcs (“rockers”) that have been the rank’s insignia since 1958 on a solid back background. Worn with the four-in-hand tie which is authorized only for male personnel, the Army does not authorize an equivalent accouterment for females to wear neck tabs.

The Army introduced several changes to its promotion system with the publication of AR 600-8-19, Enlisted Promotions and Reductions, in December 2015. For Sergeants First Class, the biggest change was one that they knew was on its way: the implementation of STEP (Select-Train-Educate-Promote) policies that were originally made part of the Army’s NCO professional development program in 2008.

Originally, STEP mandates had applied only to Master Sergeants seeking to advance to Sergeants Major, but over the years the Army expanded similar promotion requirements to all levels of the NCO corps. In January 2015, the Army put STEP procedures in place for NCOs in line for promotion to Sergeant (E-5) and Staff Sergeant (E-6).

The next year, STEP requirements were expanded to include Staff Sergeants seeking promotion to Sergeant First Class, with the two biggest hurdles being completion of the Structured Self-Development 3 (SSD-3) and the Senior Leader Course. Before August 2015, Staff Sergeants could have their Sergeant First Class stripes pinned on before completing the Senior Leader Course if they had fulfilled all other requirements.

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