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New Air Force guidance issued for frocking

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- The Air Force has issued new guidance on frocking, the practice of pinning on a higher rank after selection for that grade but before the actual promotion date.

One of the changes is delegation of the approval/disapproval authority to the Air Force Personnel Center commander for frocking to major and lieutenant colonel and to the Air Force Senior Leadership Management Office for frocking to colonel and above.

"The new guidance clarifies policy and helps us be more responsive to commanders in the field," said Lt. Col. Jim Howard, chief of the officer promotions, appointments and selective continuation branch here.

The criteria for frocking depends on several key factors. First, the officer must be nominated for promotion by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The officer must be serving in (or projected within 60 days to serve in) a valid manpower authorization at the higher grade. Finally, frocking must be essential for the officer to effectively perform his or her assigned duties.

Instances where the person is already filling a permanent position at a lower grade or is moving to another position within the same organization are not sufficient grounds for frocking, according to the new guidance.

"When an officer has already proven (himself or herself) and is known at a particular rank in an organization, frocking the officer to the higher grade would appear to be more a matter of convenience that enhancing his effectiveness in the job," Howard said.

Deployments and temporary duty assignments are also instances where frocking is not authorized.

The most common uses of the practice are when officers are assigned to international positions such as embassy or attaché duties, in a combined or joint environment, or in positions of high diplomatic sensitivity, said personnel officials.

The changes will be incorporated into the next revision to Air Force Instruction 36-2501, Officer Promotions and Selective Continuation.

Frocking is not common in the Air Force. The 1996 National Defense Authorization Act allows for up to 1 percent of majors and lieutenant colonels to be frocked. For fiscal 2003, that equates to 139 majors and 94 lieutenant colonels; however, only one officer was frocked to lieutenant colonel out of seven requests, and there were no officers frocked to major out of three requests received.

There is no enlisted frocking policy in the Air Force, even though it is practiced by the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, according to Chief Master Sgt. Mark Billingsley, chief of enlisted promotions and military testing here.

"This issue comes up every few years, but the Air Force has consistently found that it's not something we need to get the mission done," Billingsley said. (Courtesy of AFPC News Service)

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