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Enlisted evaluation and promotion changes

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Fellow Airmen,

Two months ago we sent you a note to introduce the Airman Comprehensive Assessment. It was the first of many steps we'll take as we purposefully evolve our enlisted evaluation system to ensure job performance is the most important factor when we evaluate and identify Airmen for promotion. You may have heard us discuss the steps we're taking in public forums; we both understand you want-and deserve-greater details. This letter highlights where we are heading beginning in August 2014 and continuing through early 2016.

First, we are completely overhauling the current Enlisted Performance Reports. It's no secret we've struggled with the current evaluations where inflation limits our ability to effectively differentiate performance. The new reports will include a section for promotion recommendations that will help us get after inflation through forced distribution and stratification restrictions. The forced distribution will limit the number of top promotion recommendations unit commanders are authorized to give to promotion eligible junior enlisted Airmen. For senior NCOs, senior raters will be limited on the number of EPR stratifications given to promotion eligible master sergeants and senior master sergeants.

We're also introducing a performance report designed specifically for chief master sergeants that we'll implement and utilize during this year's command chiefs screening Board process. For now, the EPR will be a test form and not a permanent part of a chief's record, but we intend to fully implement it over the next year.

To make these changes work, we will make several modifications to the EPR process. Starting this November, we will use static, or fixed, annual close out dates for each rank tied to RegAF promotion eligibility cut-off dates.

The static dates will enable the implementation of the forced distribution and stratification policy and result in better performance-based evaluations.

To further emphasize performance as the primary factor in promotions, over the next several years, we'll gradually draw down the time-in-grade and time-in-service points awarded in the Weighted Airman Promotion System with the goal of removing them completely. We'll do the necessary analysis every year to ensure there aren't any unintended consequences of the reduction. If there are, we'll adjust. In addition, beginning with the 2015 promotion cycles for staff sergeants, technical sergeants and master sergeant promotions, we'll give points for a maximum of the last three EPRs instead of five to emphasize recent performance.

Lastly, starting next year, promotion to master sergeant will be through a two-phased process that blends WAPS with a board similar to the evaluation boards already in place for promotion to senior master sergeant and chief master sergeant. The process will enable us to assess leadership, sustained performance, and future potential, and will align promotion to MSgt more with the process for our other two senior NCO grades.

The changes we're making are comprehensive and significantly update our enlisted evaluations and promotions system. We have one goal in mind here: focus on performance. We believe these are purposeful steps in that direction. As always, we'll need your continued commitment as we move forward.