Navigating the Air Force assignment system

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman William Banton
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Eventually, most Airmen have to face being reassigned. When the time comes, Airmen can leave their next assignment up to chance - or they can take control of their careers.

The active-duty assignment notifications went automatic Jan. 21, making knowledge of the Air Force's assignment system more important than ever before.

It is essential to make sure your assignment preferences show your current wishes. However, record information management may not guarantee Airmen the assignments they want.

"Just because you want to go overseas doesn't mean you're going to get your first choice - you go where the Air Force needs you," said Staff Sgt. Amanda Khan, NCO in charge of support and maintenance assignments for Air Force Special Operations Command.

There are many myths about the current assignment system. One is that Airmen can apply for assignments one rank up and one down from their current rank. The reality is the Air Force Personnel Center sets assignments based on manpower requirements within the current rank of the applicant. If an Airman is projected to promote to a higher rank, then he or she is eligible for assignments in their projected rank.

"Another misconception is that there are hidden assignments out there," said Tech. Sgt. Kristina Bricker, NCOIC of operations and force structure assignments for AFSOC. "Normally, the assignments that are being advertised are the available assignments."

To help increase your chances of being assigned to the duty station you want, be proactive by updating your "dream sheet," or volunteering for short tour assignments.

The AFPC uses the Eligibility for Overseas roster to pick Airmen for overseas assignments. The EOS sorts assignments by Control Air Force specialty codes and rank. Short-tour assignments are filled first. However, individuals who volunteer for an extended-long tour overseas assignment will have priority over those who volunteer for standard-length assignments.

In comparison, when volunteering for assignments within the continental United States you are competing for the position primarily based on your current time on station.

The Air Force currently has several established programs designed to help Airmen apply for assignments they want.

First-term Airmen have the option of applying for the Base of Preference Program. The program allows Airmen to apply for relocation as soon as eight months of time on station has passed. If accepted, the permanent change of station will take place after 12 months of time on station.

The In-place Base of Preference Program is designed to allow a prolonged stay at the current assignment. First-term Airmen can apply at any time and will receive a two-year assignment deferment once approved. Career Airmen must have at least 41 months time on station before qualifying to receive the two-year deferment.

In a recent commentary the AFPC function manager for enlisted communication assignments, Chief Master Sgt. Brian Wanke, discussed his view on the current system.

"As I became aware of the reasons each rule was developed, and the consequences of not following them, I quickly came to appreciate them," Chief Wanke said. "Our current assignments system may not be perfect, but it is truly based on fairness and equality."

Most Airmen are faced with reassignment during their career, so having the proper knowledge of the current system will allow Airmen greater control of where they are sent.

For more information contact your unit assignment manager.