Air Force makes largest change to promotion system since the USAF was created

Col. Lucas B. Rice, 122nd Tactical Support Detachment Commander, Georgia Army National Guard, is promoted to his current rank during a ceremony Oct. 20, 2019 at the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Ga. His children changed out his previous shoulder boards bearing the silver oak leaf to his current “full bird” rank to recognize his promotion.

The US Air Force has made changes to the officer promotion categories, placing more emphasis on field expertise when it comes to ranking up.

The move is a major one, and the first of its kind since the Air Force was founded in the late 1940s.

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Shon Manasco claimed the change “will be the largest change that we’ve made in the way officer personnel management is working since the birth of our [Air Force] history.”

According to, the existing single category system will be broken into six categories: Air Operations and Special Warfare, Space Operations, Nuclear and Missile Operations, Information Warfare, Force Modernization and Combat Support.

By categorizing the 40 different Air Force Specialty Codes, the system becomes more ripe for competition between officers with similar jobs.

What really adjusts is who you compete with for promotion,” said Lieutenant General Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “You … will still be told you’re eligible for the board in whichever category you happen to fall in now, and then you will still go through the process with your boss or your senior rater, who will provide you a promotion recommendation that lays out what the recommendation is for you. Rather than competing in a much larger cohort, you’re going to compete … with those folks who have similar developments.”

The change was developed after feedback from officers across the USAF.

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5 thoughts on “Air Force makes largest change to promotion system since the USAF was created

  1. Seriously, JQP…. a photo of an Army promotion for a story about the Air Force promotion system? If you can’t even get the basic skills in telling stories right, you just need to fold up shop and quit. SMH

  2. Fantastic news. Finally, officers with similar jobs will compete with each other. I’m sure there is a clear line between PA and Weather, which both fall under Information Warfare in this new construct.

  3. Wonder does the Air Force has to establish a similar promotion system for the enlisted personnel?

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