How the Qualitative Retention Board Works

The main purpose of the Qualitative Retention Board is to determine retention potential and acceptability for reenlistment or extension of enlistment. In general, the qualitative retention board provides a review, about every two years of Soldiers serving in National Guard units and Army Reserves who have 20+ years of qualifying Service for non-regular retired pay and who are within the zones of consideration and are not excluded from consideration.  The primary purpose behind the QRB program is to ensure that:

  • Ensure only the best qualified Soldiers are retained beyond 20 years of qualifying service for non-regular retired pay (i.e. These soldiers will be retained for continuing assignment to the comparatively few senior NCO positions).
  • Ensure an opportunity for advancement to the higher grades during the peak years of a Soldier’s effectiveness.
  • Provide the command with a tool to control enlisted personnel inventory and manage career progression.

The State Adjutant Generals (NG) and Area Commanders (AR) often hold QRBs during January, February, or March of any given year when the numbers and grades of enlisted Soldiers within the state or command inhibit or deter the objectives listed above.  The board will examine the record of each Soldier within the zone of consideration which includes the following requirements:

  • At least 20 years of qualifying service for non-regular retired pay as determined under provisions of AR 135–180,
  • Previously selected for retention but whose commander has referred them to the board for revalidation of their retained status.
  • Previously selected for retention but the board recommended that the Soldier’s file be reviewed the following year.

As Officers, we can do the following to help ensure that our Soldiers are given the best support going into a Qualitative Retention Board:

  • Ensure that Soldiers’ records are maintained for accurate and equitable board appraisal.
  • Announce the time and location of the annual qualitative retention board to all subordinate commands.
  • Issue instructions to subordinate units for submitting required records and information.
  • Refer personnel records to the board.
  • Provide required administrative support.
  • Approve or disapprove the board report.
  • Issue selection or non-selection memorandums within 30 days following approval of the board report.

For more information, check out AR 135-205!

If you have any questions or any comments, please post them below. Thank you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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9 thoughts on “How the Qualitative Retention Board Works”

  1. Stephen Murphy

    I believe the unit should have a say, because the unit knows the soldiers that do not work and the soldiers that are important part in the wheel. If the school slots are not available to you, you can’t get promoted. You have a say in your career. but the second the QRB evaluates you, all of a sudden you can not go to school, your going to lose %50 of your experience and the 25 yr olds will get hurt. I didn’t join for college, the money, or the power, I joined to serve.

  2. In ND the QRB got rid of several Technicians: 2 for APFT/Weight and 1 for a couple negative comments on NCOER from the 2 & 3 yrs ago but had a really good NCOER last yr and has never failed hght/wght. Thing is they should not have been QRB’d as the Unit should be getting rid of soldiers who are not to standard and there would be no one to QRB. I agree the bad apples need to go but they never actually get rid of anybody. The olther soldier had real losers that were just check collectors in the Chain of Command who refused to listen to problems that needed to addressed and fixed. We wanted this technician in our unit and wanted to get him before another unit scooped him up because of his poor unit not liking this ball of fire.
    Either way….the UTES lost 3 very valuable technicians and plenty of losers will get buddied through. The one was only a technician for 10 yrs with only 28 yrs. There are lots older techs to boot then that one.

  3. I understand the QRB is meant to be a good thing, however in the case of my husband it has made it impossible for him to get an extension of the 8 months he needs to be able to retire with 20 active duty. He’s put in over 28 years total, 19 yrs, 4 months and 4 days active duty. He was going through the med board when the QRB was initiated and done….He was in a car wreck and broke his back. While he couldn’t do a lot of things, he was able to work a desk job. My question is why couldn’t he have been allowed to continue his job for 8 more months. He’d been doing a desk job while going through the board, why not 8 more months? It makes a huge difference in the quality of life his family will have. It just seems so unfair that due to no fault of his own (a teenager pulled out in front of him on a busy freeway) his career has been cut shorter than he wanted, (he was a lifer) and while others get offered early retirement, he can’t get it with only 8 months left. I’m so disappointed in the system.

    1. This is really horrible. Has he talked with JAG or IG to see if there is any way he can appeal it? Let me know if there is anything I can do to help, Claudine.

    2. Claudine,

      Look at AR 135-205 Paragraph 2-4 and PPOM #12-12-082 Paragraph 3.

      He should not have been in front of the QRB if he is AGR or T-10 Active Duty with over 18years AFS- Active Federal Service.

      He should also have been allowed to complete his MEB and if he hasn’t he cannot be discharged under the QRB.

      Not knowing the whole scenario it sounds like you may have a serious issue here.

  4. Great post, Justin.

    I think the Qualitative Retention Board is a good thing. Sometimes you need to get rid of the dead weight. The last thing you need is a bunch of people just “hanging around” an organization just to collect a pay check.

    The QRB frees up slots for up and coming soldiers to fill. That’s a good thing. 99.9% of the time the good soldiers who contribute to the organization get retained and the dead weight gets put out. That’s the way it should be.

    Any Soldier who is up for the QRB, and wants to stay in, should make sure their records and packet are updated and current. They should also make sure their performance justifies them getting retained. Remember, no one else cares about your career as much as you do.

    If you want to survive the QRB, be proactive. Don’t sit around and hope for the best.


    1. Agreed. I often tell Soldiers when asking about QRB the same thing I do when they ask when they will be promoted…”If you able to be replaced, then you aren’t promotable or retainable.” I tell them this because I want them to really reflect and ask themselves, “Do I exceed and perform to such an extent that I am not able to be replaced? Could some other E-6 come in and fill my shoes and nobody would notice or does my unit depend on me?” I have always felt that way, even about my own performance… Too many, like you said, like to sit around in a slot when there are better Soldiers ready to fill their boots… QRB is a good thing in my opinion as well…

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