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The Secretary of the Air Force approved updates to the Regular Air Force Officer Competitive Categories for the Active Duty List on 17 November 2021, aligning the Multi-Domain Warfare Officer (13O), Operational Warfare Planner (13Z) and Astronaut (13A) career fields to the Line of the Air Force-Cross Functional Operations (LAF-X) competitive category.
This directive is effective for Regular Air Force promotion boards convening in CY2022, unless stated otherwise. The developmental categories are for Regular Air Force officers on the Active Duty List within Line of the Air Force competitive categories to the grades Major (O-4) through Colonel (O-6). The category structure creates opportunities to tailor officer development and progression milestones to meet current and future warfighting requirements. The fundamental promotion process will not change; what will change is how officers are grouped to compete for promotion with those with similar developmental opportunities/progression patterns.
Beginning with the May 2020 Lt Col Board, officer promotion line numbers may be determined by merit-based ordering as established by the promotion board. Once a selection board has developed a list of officers recommended for promotion, they are then encouraged to develop a one-through-end reordering of the promotion list based on assessment of associated records of performance. Merit-based reordering is intended to provide increased transparency by informing officers of their relative standing when compared against their peers. Additional factors (e.g. current date of rank, previous grade date of rank, Total Active Federal Commissioned Service Date, etc.) will be used to “break” ties.
Upon release of board results, merit-based line numbers will be released using the same process as previously used. They are typically posted on vMPF within 24-48 hours. However, when merit-based reordering is used (not mandatory, but we anticipate merit-based reordering will become the norm), officers will be informed and promotion line numbers will indicate their relative standing as determined by the selection board. To prevent unintended use of this information, the worldwide list will not include line numbers. It will reflect the total number of “selects” which offers the officer a denominator to provide perspective as to where they stand compared to the selects from their particular promotion board/developmental category.
It is important to note that merit-based ranking is a snap shot in time assessment specific to a given promotion board. Results should not be used for any other purpose (stratification, school selection, award nominations etc.) outside of the promotion board process.
The Air Force has adjusted the published promotion increment window from 1 to 3 months to provide more planning time for officers and officiating officials. These quarterly increments will be posted 30 days prior to the beginning of the quarter. The increments will not change once published, and every effort will be made to maintain consistent increment levels for future months. However, promotion increments outside the published 3-month window are subject to change, especially the last quarter of the fiscal year as the Air Force must meet mandatory DOPMA and end-strength levels by the end of each fiscal year.
Pin-on plans should not be finalized until increments are officially posted. It is recommended officers hold pin-on ceremonies on the last duty day before the effective date of an officer's promotion. However, pin-on ceremonies may be held earlier than the duty day before the effective date. The officer being promoted may not wear the new rank until the actual promotion effective date or frocking effective date. The promotion is not effective until the date specified on the promotion order, and the early ceremony will not affect the officer's pay, seniority, or entitlements.
Commanders must continually review an officer's suitability for promotion and approve promotions in writing. The Military Personnel Flight (MPF) provide listings to commanders each month for their approval. Commanders initiate propriety actions according to AFI 36-2501, Chapter 5, when it is determined the officer should not be promoted.
Promotions will consummate and flow to the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) files on the promotion effective date, but they will not change in Military Personnel Data System (MilPDS)/vMPF until the day after the promotion.
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