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Fix nets new stripes for 23 airmen

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Nearly two dozen enlisted airmen will receive an unexpected promotion since personnel officials discovered systemic errors involving people who returned to the Air Force after a break in service.

While no stripes will be taken away, officials discovered that 35 "prior-service" airmen had -- unknown to them -- incorrect service dates, including incorrect dates of rank, which allowed them to test for promotion when they actually were ineligible. Some of those airmen tested well enough to earn a stripe. As part of the fix, 23 others whose scores previously fell below the cutoff will receive promotions and retroactive pay.

"We'll know, by name, everyone who was affected and will contact them directly if we haven't already," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Billingsley, chief of Air Force enlisted promotions at the Air Force Personnel Center here.

The errors were a result of a systemwide miscalculation of the service dates and dates of rank for some prior-service people re-entering the Air Force through recruiters. Personnel officials caught the problem after the 2002 Weighted Airmen Promotion System tests were completed.

Those 35 airmen were found to have been technically ineligible for promotion, but the ones selected are being allowed to sew on their new rank since it was a system error, officials said. Other promotees from the last cycle should have been assigned a later promotion date because their incorrect dates of rank and service dates placed them higher on the list than they should have been.

"The root of the problem is fixed now," said Billingsley. "AFPC now verifies the service date and date of rank calculation for every enlisted person coming back through (Air Force) Recruiting Service."

At the same time, personnel officials are providing supplemental promotion consideration to people who missed out on a stripe because it went to a technically ineligible person.

The errors came to light as a result of a base-level query following the 2002 WAPS cycle, officials said. The increased number of prior-service accessions over the last two years, coupled with a recent breakdown in the service date/date of rank verification process, led to the data problem.

Promotion actions were briefly frozen to allow a comprehensive review of service dates and dates of rank for more than 5,000 airmen with prior service, officials said.

"Every case is receiving individual attention," said Billingsley. "Some people from the last cycle have already been reconsidered through the in-system supplemental process. This process will continue until all errors have been addressed."

The calculation of dates varies based upon the length of an individual's break in service and is important because it affects not only promotion, but re-enlistment, retraining and assignments, officials said. (Courtesy of AFPC News Service)

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