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Forced distribution driving more promotions for top performers

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Results of the first promotion board using the forced distribution process were released May 25, highlighting a close connection between commander recommendations and those selected for promotion.

“These results are achieving the intended purpose of the new evaluation and promotion systems we previewed to our enlisted force during last year’s roadshows,” said Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “Performance assessment, along with input from supervisors at all levels, is helping identify and promote our top performers.”

The 5,019 technical sergeants selected for promotion, out of 21,504 eligible, represent an increase in the overall selection rate of 23.3 percent compared to last year’s rate of 22.4 percent. The selection rate to technical sergeant continues to move closer to the historical average of 24.2 percent selection rate following the reduced rates associated with the force management drawdown in 2014.

Promotion recommendations had a significant impact on promotion selection. Ninety percent of Airmen who received a “promote now” and 75 percent of the Airmen who received a “must promote” were promoted to master sergeant.

Additionally, and as intended, more than 2,000 Airmen receiving a “promote” recommendation were also selected for promotion -- nearly 41 percent of the 5,019 selected for promotion.

“We built the system to ensure Airmen who received the highest promotion recommendations from their commanders would have a significant advantage, while also ensuring Airmen who received a promote recommendation would remain competitive,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody. “These results show us we’re moving in the right direction, and should help alleviate concerns Airmen may have had about not being promotable without one of the top recommendations.”

Earlier this year, the Air Force conducted and released the results of the senior master sergeant and chief master sergeant promotion boards, which were the first to use restricted stratification. Restricted stratification limited the number of stratifications senior raters could give to their master sergeant and senior master sergeant promotion eligible populations to the top 10 and 20 percent, respectively.

In March, 1,467 Airmen were selected for promotion to senior master sergeant at a 12.3 percent selection rate – a significant increase from last year’s rate of 8.75 percent. About 57 percent of those with a stratification were selected, while 5 percent of those without one were selected. Overall, 32 percent of all selects, about 470, did not receive a stratification.

In November, 525 Airmen were selected for promotion to chief master sergeant at a 20.8 percent overall selection rate – also an increase from last year’s rate of 18.9 percent. About 54 percent of those with a stratification were selected, while about 7 percent of those without one were selected. Overall, 23 percent of all selects, about 120, did not receive a stratification.

“The results clearly highlight the positive effects forced distribution and restricted stratification have on our enlisted evaluation and promotion systems,” Cody said. “Job performance remains the most important factor when considering Airmen for promotion, and our top performers now have the advantage toward promotion they deserve.”

To view the 2016 promotion selection lists, visit the myPers enlisted promotion page. For more information about Air Force personnel programs go to the myPers website. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one by following the instructions on the Air Force Retirees Services website.