AL TAQADDUM, Iraq -- For Marine lance corporals and corporals, promotion means more responsibility and pay, but instead of waiting on their composite scores to reach the next rank, a select few attain it through meritorious promotions. Senior-enlisted leaders from Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), gathered in Al Taqaddum, July 18, to decide which Marines in the command would receive a combat meritorious promotion to corporal and sergeant during two separate boards.For a special few who displayed the best of what it means to be a Marine, gaining the vote of their enlisted leaders while deployed to the Al Anbar province of Iraq, could earn them a combat meritorious promotion."The purpose of the combat meritorious promotion board is to promote the best, most fully qualified Marines who have proven their worth via sustained superior performance under combat conditions; performance which is deemed significantly superior to that of their peers," said Sgt. Maj. Brian K. Jackson, sergeant major, MAG-16 and a Gary, Ind., native.With the board members gathered around a large table, Jackson handed out the lance corporal nomination packages."The format and composition of the board is fairly standard," said Jackson. "It has certainly come a very long way since the 80's, when a meritorious promotion board consisted of who could correctly answer the most questions asked."Most of the nominated Marines' package information came from records located in the Marine Corps Total Force System. The data included their awards, proficiency and conduct marks, rifle and physical fitness scores among others."The Marine's entire history is a factor now. I chose to run it the way that I did due to the environment," said Jackson. "We cannot gather each Marine for the competitive portion of the board and the physical inspections. Their records must paint the total picture for the 13 board members who then determine the outcome of the board."Quietly poring over the packages, the board members quickly began compiling bits of positive and negative information about the Marines on notepads.Every few minutes, a board member would speak up to point out any discrepancy on the package he was examining for the entire board to hear. This allowed the other members to annotate the change as well. After each board member examined the packages, they took turns presenting their nominated Marine's package to the board for three minutes, which incited pointed questions and harsh comments from the listening board members about the Marine in question. For more than three hours, the board members debated the worthiness of the nominated Marines until all 15 packages were ranked in order from most to least deserving. With the meritorious corporal portion voting completed, the board broke for lunch.Immediately after lunch, the board members went back to work on the combat meritorious sergeant board, which followed the format of its predecessor. More remarks from the board members were heard while the packages moved around the table, as the members were now deciding to promote a noncommissioned officer to the next rank. In the end, after more than five hours of paper turning and debate, the board members called it a day, leaving the MAG-16 sergeant major the names of the deserving and the soon to be combat meritoriously promoted corporals and sergeants.