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Time-in-grade changes affect officers
Air Force Reserve Command recently changed the time-in-grade requirements for reserve officers to be promoted to the next higher rank. The changes primarily affect captains, majors and lieutenant colonels. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Maj. David Kurle)
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Reserve changes time-in-grade requirements for officers

Posted 2/7/2008   Updated 2/7/2008 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Leo Brown
442nd Fighter Wing public affairs

2/7/2008 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Officers eligible for promotion to colonel, lieutenant colonel and major will feel the effect of recent changes to promotion policies.

Designed to keep the Air Force Reserve in step with budgets and operational demands, the changes are effective immediately, per Lt. Gen. John Bradley, chief of Air Force Reserve.

The changes include making the mandatory eligibility for promotion to O-6 from three years time in grade to four. This will be phased-in beginning with the colonel selection board in October 2008 and will be completed with the October 2009 board.

Majors and captains eligible for promotion will be affected in the sense that position vacancy (PV) boards will meet once at five years time in grade versus twice, at the four- and five-year mark. This begins with the April 2008 lieutenant colonel board, and includes the February 2009 majors' board and all following boards. The February 2008 majors' board will not be affected.

"The decision to do this was because Air Force Reserve Command had too many people eligible for colonel but not enough positions, and that's mainly because of the officer grade enhancements we had five or six years ago," said Capt. Joe Walter, 442nd Mission Support Flight commander.

"There were a lot of promotions over time to the lieutenant colonel rank," he said. "So the command is slowing down the process for eligibility to O-6 and, at the same time, colonels can retire sooner than they previously could."

Colonels can now retire with two years of time in grade versus three.

"That'll open O-6 billets for those who are now bottlenecked for lieutenant colonel," Captain Walter said. "So people will get impacted now if they're going to O-5, but this will open up colonel positions down the road."

The captain also said that another benefit is that position-vacancy boards, since they will meet at five years time in grade versus four, will "probably select a larger percentage of members. Since there's only one look now, they'll probably pick larger numbers."

"All these changes are an attempt to try to get better control of officers as they're going through the ranks, to help avoid bottlenecks," he said.

"We do have a handful of people affected by this, people who are currently in the window," Captain Walter said. "Boards for major that will happen in February 2008 will not be affected, but the lieutenant colonel boards for April and June 2008 will be affected."

While the changes are designed to help the Air Force Reserve, they bring some frustration.

"It is certainly disappointing to those of us who were looking forward to promotion consideration this year, but will now have to wait an additional year," said Maj. Travis Caughlin, 442nd Maintenance Group deputy commander.

"However, policy adjustments are sometimes necessary to maintain the correct grade balance needed by the command and, inevitably, those changes will have a more immediate impact on some," he stated. "All said, my focus will remain on our important mission and, hopefully, my performance will make me competitive for promotion, regardless of whether it is this year or next."

"The command is trying to avoid bottlenecks, so there are improved opportunities for promotion," Captain Walter said. "It does impact some people immediately. At least for O-6 positions, they're phasing it in gradually."

Other changes include discontinuing selective continuation for lieutenant colonels beyond 28 years of commissioned service and combining the Participating Individual Ready Reserve and Selective Reserve into the Participating Reserve during promotion boards.

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