Officer assignments move beyond 'seven-day option'

  • Published
  • By Maj. John J. Thomas
  • Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs
Following secretary of the Air Force guidance, Air Force Personnel Center officials reviewed and improved what was called the "seven-day option" policy for officer assignments.

Those officers who would be eligible to separate or retire instead of taking an assignment will now get more than seven days to act. Also, a general officer will review the assignment before the final decision is made. In the past, these officers were given seven days to elect to take the assignment or apply to leave the Air Force.

After an intense study of the processes many officers use to make those critical decisions, personnel officials made changes that will result in more formal communication earlier in the process between assignment teams, commanders and the affected officer. This will let officers and Air Force officials make the best possible decisions on potential moves.

Before an officer leaves the Air Force as a result of a permanent change-of-station-related decision, a general officer will "ensure that it's the right decision for the individual and for the Air Force," said Maj. Gen. Thomas O'Riordan, the center commander.

Only about 1 percent of officers typically express the intention to leave the Air Force instead of taking an assignment, officials said.

"What hasn't changed is that our first priority remains filling Air Force needs so we provide a ready and capable Air Force for combatant commanders," said Col. Chris Miller, director of assignments here. "What has changed is that we're taking extra care to consider the impact on future capabilities of letting an experienced officer leave the service who we might possibly be able to retain.

"That sometimes means we need to work with individuals and commanders to explore all reasonable options," he said.

"The needs of the Air Force come first," O'Riordan said. "We will not be able to please every person. But it's worth the effort if we can find some common ground to retain a valuable officer."

For now, senior leaders have agreed that enlisted assignment procedures do not need to change, officials said.

"We've looked hard and found no clear benefit to changing today's enlisted assignment system," said Chief Master Sgt. Carlton McCoy, superintendent of the airman assignments division here.

"Of course that doesn't mean we aren't always looking for ways to improve. It only means we're not making any changes to the enlisted assignment declination policy at this time," the chief said. (Courtesy of AFPC News Service)