Starting this year, senior noncommissioned officers no longer need a Community College of the Air Force degree to be considered for promotion.
Under the new policy announced Wednesday, senior noncommissioned officers who complete an associate degree or higher “from a nationally or regionally accredited academic institution” are eligible for promotion and eligible for commander’s promotion recommendation, the Air Force said in a release.
Previously, only SNCOs with degrees from the Community College of the Air Force were considered for endorsement for promotion from their commander. Airmen were advised to update their degrees in the Military Personnel Data System, the release said.
The Air Force is updating the evaluation system to ensure it “focuses on equitability and streamlines the stratification process,” it said.
Other updates remove airmen with an approved high year of tenure retirement date from endorsement consideration and let raters decide whether to refer an enlisted performance report for those who receive a “met some, but not all expectations” rating.
Previously, a referral EPR was mandatory with this rating, which would prevent promotion eligibility and change of station orders. The new policy is set to take effect in conjunction with the staff sergeant EPR closeout date on Jan. 31.
The change gives raters space to provide honest, realistic feedback, while at the same time allowing airmen room to improve, said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, as cited in the release.
“Under the previous policy, if we set 100 expectations for an airman and they met or exceeded 99 of them but fell short on one, in essence we were saying they should be removed from promotion consideration,” Wright said in the release. “That doesn’t align with our vision of talent management. We want supervisors and command teams to have the option to make decisions that make sense for our airmen, tailored to each individual situation.”
The Air Force said the revised policies were in response to feedback from the field. The changes are geared toward increasing flexibility for commanders and empowering performance within the enlisted corps.
“Our focus is on making our system more agile, more responsive, simpler and more transparent to better meet the needs of our airmen and our Air Force,” Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services, said in the release.
The updated policies will affect nearly every active duty, Guard and Reserve enlisted airman.
Additional policy updates authorize a unit’s senior enlisted leader a vote on the Enlisted Forced Distribution Panel and allows commanders to have authority to designate days that a servicemember’s performance would not be rated, if they determine the airman “faced personal hardships during the reporting period.”
“The option provides commanders the agility to reflect periods of extenuating circumstances on annual evaluations without negatively impacting the Airman,” the release said.
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