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Officer promotion board changes take effect Jan. 1

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Sept. 06, 2006) -- The secretary of the Air Force has approved changes to the format of the selection brief presented to officer promotion boards to begin Jan. 1.

Air Force officials will implement three changes to officer

selection briefs, or OSBs; two changes deal with presentation of data related to developmental education with a third change deals with deployment history.

The OSB is a single sheet of paper that summarizes an officer's career. It is an important document in an officer selection record, or OSR. The OSR is presented to a selection board when an officer is being reviewed for promotion.

The OSR contains, in addition to the OSB, such items as performance reports, training reports, decorations and a promotion recommendation form. The OSB is intended to be an overview of what is inside the OSR, said Col. Philip Odom, the chief of Air Force Military Force Shaping Policy.

"It is essentially a summary of an officer's career -- some would call it a snapshot -- in a format that is quickly reviewed by a board member," Colonel Odom said. "A board member can look at the OSB and get an idea of where an officer's career is by looking at their job titles and duty descriptions, and whether or not they have completed developmental education."

Beginning in January, OSBs will no longer list the name of a school an officer attended as part of their developmental education. Instead, under the education heading, the brief will indicate only the level of education attained along with its completion date.

In the civilian world, colleges and universities often make a determination about the caliber of an applicant before accepting them as a student. Applicants who are accepted to the most prestigious schools, and who later graduate, are often looked upon more favorably than those who graduated from lesser known schools.

In the Air Force, however, officers selected for developmental education have little input into the school they attend. Often their schools and the coursework they will participate in are chosen for them.

By eliminating school names from the developmental education portion of the OSB, the Air Force hopes to change a culture that in the past has put too much emphasis on the school attended rather than the fact the officer completed the appropriate level of professional military education.

"This gets into the issue of getting away from the pedigree of the school attended," Colonel Odom said. "Historical experiences are that officers that go in residence to a better known school -- such as the National Defense University or the Naval Post Graduate School -- that those schools represent a quality cut of the officer. This is an attempt to move away from that mindset. If an officer is selected for senior developmental education, wherever they go, that is significant. You have to change the established mindset of the force."

A second change to the OSB, also related to developmental education, is the addition of the "declined with prejudice" statement. That statement will display on an OSB if an officer has declined to attend developmental education in their last year of eligibility (if they were a select).

"When you are identified and designated to go do developmental education, the Air Force is saying we need you to go do that education, because in the future we need the skill sets you are going to acquire," Colonel Odom said. "By declining to attend, you are telling the Air Force you don't want to participate anymore, that you are not really a team player any longer. It is important for a selection board to know an individual has elected not to play."

In April, the Air Force began asking officers to sign a letter when they declined an opportunity to attend developmental education. Since that time, the letter of declination has been included in an officer's OSR. But the OSB has not reflected the declination. Instead, the OSB continued to say the officer had been selected for developmental education. Changes to the OSB will rectify the disparity.

Colonel Odom said officers who cannot attend developmental education due to operational reasons will not see "declined with prejudice" on their OSBs. Rather, their OSB will identify them as being "operationally deferred."

The final change to the OSB involves an officer's deployment history. Under the deployment history heading, the OSB will now reflect the location of an officer's contingency and exercise deployments. In the past, only the date and level of command during a CED deployment was displayed.

The OSB will now indicate if the deployment was overseas or in the United States. Location will be indicated with either an "OS" or a "US" designator to protect against revealing the location of classified deployment locations.

Changes to the OSB will not necessarily affect promotion numbers, because selection board members will continue to closely review records as they have in the past to make promotion decisions.