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Air Force announces new officer developmental categories

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Robin Meredith)

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Robin Meredith)

WASHINGTON, D.C. --

In an effort to enhance the officer talent management system and enable tailored and agile development, the Air Force is expanding the single Line of the Air Force promotion category into six distinct developmental categories, senior officials here announced Oct. 21.

“This is an important step forward in the way Air Force leaders are developed,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett. “The team has done exceptional work to get us to this point and I look forward to implementing this together.”

Over the summer, Air Force officials traveled to more than a dozen bases to hold 42 town hall sessions. They talked with more than 3,700 Airmen about the proposed developmental categories change and captured feedback.

The Line of the Air Force category will be expanded into six categories: Air Operations and Special Warfare, Nuclear and Missile Operations, Space Operations, Information Warfare, Combat Support, and Force Modernization. Categories for judge advocates, chaplains and medical personnel will remain unchanged. For the regular Air Force, the change will take effect in March 2020 with the lieutenant colonel promotion board.

“This change is about ensuring we maintain a winning team,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “The existing Line of the Air Force category has served our Air Force well and molded the excellent leaders we have today. As we look to the future of warfighting, we must have an agile system that allows for a wider range of development paths to ensure officers have the needed skills and expertise to fight and win. This sets us on that path.”

“Our Air Force Reserve is following lock-step with our regular Air Force teammates,” said Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command. “This is not just about promotion boards. It’s about developing our officer corps with more transparency and a better understanding of what is expected of them.

“Tailoring our promotion boards for officers to more precisely meet our needs at the next higher level is a large part of this change, but this is more. It is about the agility of our mentors, career field managers and developmental teams who can now use this to tailor career paths and expectations.”

The Reserve’s plan is to implement these new categories with its lieutenant colonel selection board scheduled for June 2020.

Before the change, the Line of the Air Force category was comprised of more than 40 different officer Air Force Specialty Codes and accounted for about 80% of the officer corps. The Line of the Air Force category has remained virtually unchanged since the establishment of the Air Force as a separate service in 1947.

Now, rather than competing for promotion against 40 different career fields with varied job requirements, officers will compete against officers in other fields that have similar progression milestones, experiences and mission area focus.

The new categories will allow each career field the freedom and agility to better tailor officer development to meet job demands without compromising competitive position at a promotion board.

The Air Force has released several reforms over the last couple years as part of a larger talent management system reform. Goldfein said the next phase of the reforms will address performance management.

“We believe maximizing the development of all Airmen is about having the right education, training and experiences. Getting this right enhances individual and unit performance,” Goldfein said. “Our goal through these efforts, and others, is to unleash the capabilities of our people to be ready for tomorrow’s fight.”

“We have some details to be worked out for some AFSCs and careers unique to the Air Force Reserve and we will find the best fit within these six developmental categories for everyone on our team,” Scobee said. “We’ll publish more information and details in the coming weeks.”

A list of the new developmental categories and associated Air Force Specialty Codes is available on the MyPers website.

Editors note: This article has been modified from the original.