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Enlisted promotion changes for reservists take effect

Air Force Reserve Command personnel officials recently announced changes to promotions process for enlisted ranks that took place Jan. 1. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Tech. Sgt. John Vertreese)

Air Force Reserve Command personnel officials recently announced changes to promotions process for enlisted ranks that took place Jan. 1. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Tech. Sgt. John Vertreese)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Air Force reservists may find it easier to sew on new stripes since the start of the new year. Specifically, eight changes to promotions took place January 1, which affect all enlisted ranks.

Directed by Air Force Reserve Command and its A1, or personnel directorate, one of the changes that affects first-term Airmen includes promoting E-1s through E-4s on their promotion eligibility date, versus waiting until the first day of the following month to promote them.

"Under the current system, if 'A1C Jones' was eligible for promotion on Nov. 15 - if he was not in IADT (initial active duty for training) status - he'd have to wait until Dec. 1 to get promoted. Now, he can get promoted Nov. 15," said Captain Joe Walter, 442nd Mission Support Flight commander.

Only Airmen who are in Basic Military Training School or the technical school following BMTS are considered in IADT status.

"All promotions are important," Captain Walter said. "But the ones from E-1 to E-4 are especially important - emotionally and financially - for young Airmen. It's all about retention, especially with our operations tempo. This change, hopefully, will positively affect retention."

Senior Master Sgt. Al Sturges, who became the wing's command chief Jan. 1, 2008, agreed that this change was good news for young troops.

"They're not 'penalized' for anything and they're being rewarded immediately for that promotion," he said.

One change affects technical, master and senior master sergeants. They need to have at least 24 months left on their enlistment before being considered for promotion to E-7, E-8 or E-9. Under the current system, there is no such requirement.

"The Air Force Reserve wants to make sure they're getting more bang for their buck," Captain Walter said. "If we're promoting to those higher ranks, we want to ensure it's worth it."

Another change affects senior master sergeants who have been selected for chief master sergeant. These reservists must attend the regular component of the Chief Leadership Course or the reserve component of the Chief Orientation Course prior to sewing on the chief's stripe.

"Chiefs used to have to go to a chief leadership class within two years after being promoted," Sergeant Sturges said. "Now they have two options, but it must be done before they get promoted to chief."

Another change affects members who have unexcused absences from their reserve duty. Airmen with just one such absence within a 12-month period from their promotion-effective-date are ineligible for promotion.

The current policy allows for promotion consideration for members with nine or fewer unexcused absences.

"This is a no-brainer," Sergeant Sturges said. "We're holding our Airmen accountable."

Under the new instruction, promotion enhancement program (PEP) boards will be reduced from two per year to one. The promotion effective dates for members promoted under PEP will be Oct. 1.

"It's very important for supervisors to be ready if they're going to nominate someone for a PEP promotion," Captain Walter said. "They have to make sure paperwork and EPRs (enlisted performance reports) are in line."
Other changes include:

-  Deleting the requirement for Active-Guard-and-Reserve (AGR) Airmen to serve at least 90 days before they are considered for promotion. After meeting promotion eligibility requirements, enlisted AGRs will be promoted on the first day of the following month.

-  Air Force Instruction 36-2502 will no longer allow promotion consideration to take place within 12 months of a BRAC, a unit deactivation or other programmatic actions.

-  The new posthumous promotion policy allows promotion for members who have been selected for promotion, then die before the effective date.

"Most of these changes are not really major shifts," Sergeant Sturges said. "They are just a 'house cleaning' of sorts. They bring a little more consistency."

"These changes give our Airmen opportunities and a level of training that our active-duty counterparts have," Captain Walter said. "They're another step toward integrating with the active duty and toward becoming a total force.

"The changes are creating benefits, but they're also putting more teeth into promotions," he said. "You have to do things to get promoted. It's all about meeting the mission."