In the latest move to restore the Air Force’s readiness and lethality, senior leaders are taking a closer look at officer performance management with a focus on developing leaders and retaining the talented professionals the service needs.
During the last year, Headquarters Air Force has conducted research and developed recommendations on a variety of officer performance management related tools, to include evaluations and promotions. The goal is to better identify talent, future potential and plan for current and anticipated officer shortages.
“There have been no major changes to the Officer Evaluation System in nearly 30 years, but there have been significant changes to our force composition, mission, requirements and how our performance system reflects what we value in officers,” said Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, Air Force deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services.
“Although the system hasn’t changed, challenges with agility, efficiency, consistency and transparency have been documented by research and in the field for over 20 years,” said Maj. Mike Lupher, chief of Workforce Development for the Air Force Talent Management Innovation Cell. “We recognized we needed to do something about it and are taking a comprehensive approach to addressing these challenges.”
Field Grade Officer Requirements and Promotion Opportunity
One of the immediate needs senior leaders focused on was the service’s requirement for growing and developing enough field-grade officers to meet mission demands. At 92 percent, the Air Force is currently undermanned in Line of the Air Force field-grade officers, with non-rated field-grade officers manned at 74 percent.
As such, beginning December 2017, the pool of line officers considered for promotion to major will have a 100 percent promotion opportunity. Promotion opportunity rates are typically adjusted as required to meet the needs of the Air Force.
“With this change, captains whose conduct has been exemplary can expect to be promoted to major,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. “We’ve been letting capable people leave the service and we need them.”
Promotion Recommendation Forms will only be required for officers who receive a “Promote” recommendation and have derogatory information such as an Article 15, court-martial, referral report, or letter of reprimand filed in their Officer Selection Record, as well as for officers with a “Do Not Promote” recommendation.
“I fully trust raters and senior raters to continue to ensure the Air Force’s high standards of conduct,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.
More information about the initiative is available on myPers.
‘One more swing of the axe’
Goldfein also characterized the move as “one more swing of the axe” for him and Secretary Wilson to increase the lethality and readiness of the force, while smartly reducing administrative burdens on squadron commanders.
“This change, along with many other initiatives, will help reinforce our trust and confidence in squadron leadership and their management of our talented Airmen,” Goldfein said.
Air Force officials said they will continue to review the research and recommendations on how to improve officer performance management, and will announce new initiatives once they’re approved and ready for deliberate phased implementation.
Other talent management initiatives recently implemented by the Air Force as part of its broader effort to restore readiness and lethality include continuing to grow the force, reducing unnecessary administrative burdens on Airmen, alleviating unneeded Air Force instructions, providing commanders more say in developmental education opportunities, tackling the pilot retention crisis and more acutely focusing on the needs of Airmen at the squadron level to ensure they are fully prepared to accomplish their missions.