A promotion is evidence that your hard work and effort were noticed and rewarded. Becoming a corporal is especially thrilling because it is the first leadership rank. You become a non-commissioned officer and rate to wield a sword. It is also the first good pay increase. Some units allow you to live without roommates if you live on base. There are more pros than cons to becoming a corporal, but the few cons really do suck.
1. All your uniforms need an update
Your whole wardrobe will now need to go through some changes. Promotions of E-3 and below did not require a complete overhaul. Some new chevrons here and there for your cammies and dress uniforms, done. However, now you’re an NCO, you’re going to need: A new belt buckle, rank insignias, blood stripes and a $200+ sword (maybe). You might as well get new cammies, boots, covers, everything because you’re held to a higher standard. First Sergeant is on the prowl to chew some a** and a new, out of regs NCO will do perfectly.
2. Everyone in the chain of command still outranks you
Point blank, nothing will change immediately. If you weren’t a team leader or squad leader then you will have to become one, other NCOs already have them, you’re going to have to wait. If the team and squad leader roles are filled with sergeants then the only thing that changed is the size of your pay check.
3. You may get drafted to sit behind a desk
Headquarters could also poach you from a line company if they’re hurting for bodies. Some billets can only be marshalled by an NCO. For example, S-3 Operations at the battalion level needs NCOs to be the Training NCO, Scheduling NCO,and Schools NCO. They may only have, like, three lance corporals. Everyone else is a master gunnery sergeant, master sergeant, a lieutenant, captain or major. None of them can fill those roles. You joined the infantry to pull some triggers but now you’re doing power point presentations and going to staff meetings.
4. You have to go to extra courses
Your chain of command is going to send you off to complete corporals course and other schools. It can be a lot of fun but there will be times you have not done anything with the platoon for months. It can be a positive or a negative depending on how well you get along with the boys. You’re going to miss out on a lot of inside jokes and stories – like the time everyone suspected our staff sergeant of being a furry.
5. Most of your peers are getting out
If you’re an infantryman then it doesn’t get better. It takes so long in a combat arms MOS to get promoted. The sheer amount of competition means that by the time you achieve it, your friends are talking about going to college. Regardless if you stay in or get out one thing is for certain: time with the boys is almost over. The first four years were the best years of my career because I was with those who had my back. If you extend or stay in, brace yourself because the game is going to change. NCO upwards is a world of political games and power grabs. It’s lonely at the top and this is the first step getting there.