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DAF to allow officers to opt out of promotion in certain circumstances

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) --

Eligible officers, who meet certain conditions, may soon request exclusion from consideration for the next higher grade.

The new policy will go into effect beginning with the major, lieutenant colonel and colonel Space Force promotion boards set to convene Oct. 16, and will provide more flexible talent management options.

“This is another step in our larger Department of the Air Force effort to create a more agile, responsive and transparent talent management system to empower performance and ensure we have a more lethal and ready force,” said Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, Manpower, Personnel and Services deputy chief of staff. “To do that, we must modify how we manage, develop, assign and promote our members to meet 21st century challenges.”

Department of the Air Force officers holding the rank of captain, major or lieutenant colonel are eligible to apply for the following reasons: 

  • To complete a broadening assignment
  • To complete advanced education
  • To complete another assignment of significant value to the Department of the Air Force
  • To complete a career progression requirement delayed by a broadening or advanced education assignment

For example, a Combat Support officer who pursues an Air Force-funded, resident Ph.D program as a lieutenant colonel, might find themselves in a position where they are approaching their colonel’s board in-the-promotion zone, or IPZ, without having completed squadron command. Since squadron command is a key developmental assignment for most combat support communities prior to the rank of colonel, this new authority will allow the member to opt out of promotion consideration from one to three years, one year at a time, in order to complete a successful assignment as a squadron commander. This option reduces the risk of non-selection IPZ, and allows the member the opportunity to put themselves in a better position for selection to the next higher grade.

Those approved for exclusion from promotion consideration will meet the next central selection board for the same grade, unless they are approved for further exclusions. Officers may request exclusion from promotion consideration up to three times per grade.

Before this option, it was mandatory for officers to compete in IPZ, no matter where they were in their career progression.

“Allowing our members the ability to opt out of promotion consideration aids the Department of the Air Force in building and retaining those we need, with the attributes we need, to compete, deter, and win in the high-end fight,” Kelly added. “Without this authority, we often risk losing incredibly talented Airmen with critical skills who chose or were even directed to pursue an atypical career path.”

The Department of the Air Force has already made several large modifications to its talent management system and this new option is part of its larger reform.

In October 2019, six lines of the Air Force developmental categories were created to allow career fields the freedom and agility to better tailor officer development to meet job demands without compromising competitive position at a promotion board. Then career development briefs were implemented that familiarized promotion boards with different functional communities. Additionally, the Department of the Air Force transitioned away from below-the-zone promotions in favor of merit-based line numbers.

Within the next few years, additional talent management initiatives are expected to be released to include new officer and enlisted evaluation systems.

For additional details on the latest talent management reform, consult MyPers or the new Air Force Guidance memorandum to Air Force Instruction 36-2501, “Officer Promotions and Selective Continuation”