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Air Force ‘Unmasks’ Advanced Degrees in Some Promotions

01-04-23 WR AF Promotions WEBSITE
01-04-23 WR AF Promotions WEBSITE
Washington Report

Advanced academic degrees will now be considered by Air Force promotion central selection boards evaluating airmen for the major and lieutenant colonel ranks.

The change affects all eligible active, National Guard and Reserve officers, according to a Dec. 30 Air Force press release.

The new policy lets promotion board members consider an officer’s acquisition of “valued expertise” among many “whole-person concept” considerations.

The rule became effective Jan. 1.

The measure aims to highlight the academic prowess of applicants for U.S. military promotions as tensions with China and Russia grow, according to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.

"To compete with China, Russia, or other potential threats, the Air and Space Forces must incorporate new technology more rapidly and effectively than our competitors," Kendall said.

"To do this effectively, we need leaders and supporting staff throughout the [Department of the Air Force] at all levels who have deep expertise in emerging technologies and their applications to military operations,” he added.

The Air Force said the new policy means advanced academic degrees "will be considered but will not be a requirement for, or a guarantor of, promotion."

The service began hiding advanced academic degrees during promotion boards in 2014.

The initiative intended to highlight job performance and challenge the belief that certain degrees were necessary for promotions.

"By eliminating these perceived expectations, we hope to remind our officers that job performance is what we value most and that we want them to have a life away from work," Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, then the Air Force chief of staff, said when releasing the policy.

Per the release, the Air Force's longstanding service practice has been displaying advanced academic degrees for promotion boards considering advancements to colonel and above.

“Officers should not pursue an advanced degree simply to impress a promotion board or to check a perceived box,” Kendall said.

“Advanced degrees should be chosen to meet personal and professional goals, with an appreciation of the value of the specific degree has to the Department of the Air Force," he noted.

The release said officers meeting promotion boards between January and March will be directly informed of the change.

Additionally, all officers will be notified about where to find the guidance that promotion board members will receive regarding specific advanced academic degrees, military training and operational experiences for each developmental category.

Officers will also be reminded to update their officer selection brief.

For all officer promotion boards convening after March, the Air Force will follow the normal scheduled officer promotion process.

The release stated officers will now have the opportunity to review their officer selection brief containing unmasked advanced academic degree information.

— By John Goheen