Air Force formalizes officer developmental categories, effective March O-5 board

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON -- The Air Force announced Oct. 21 it formally established six distinct officer developmental groupings for active component line officers, which will take effect in March 2020 for the lieutenant colonel promotion board.

The historic decision comes after months of work by Air Force officials to reconfigure the single Line of the Air Force category, enhancing the officer talent management system and enabling tailored and agile development.

“This is an important step forward in the way Air Force leaders are developed,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett. “The team has done exceptional work to get us to this point and I look forward to implementing this together.”

Over the summer, Air Force officials traveled to more than a dozen bases to hold 42 town-hall sessions talking with more than 3,700 Airmen about the proposed developmental categories change and captured feedback. Based on that feedback, the new categories were established on Oct. 7th.

The Line of the Air Force category will be expanded into six categories: Air Operations and Special Warfare, Nuclear and Missile Operations, Space Operations, Information Warfare, Combat Support and Force Modernization.

“This change is about ensuring we maintain a winning team,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “The existing Line of the Air Force category has served our Air Force well and molded the excellent leaders we have today. As we look to the future of warfighting, we must have an agile system that allows for a wider range of development paths to ensure officers have the needed skills and expertise to fight and win. This sets us on that path.”

Before this change, the LAF category was comprised of more than 40 different officer Air Force specialty codes, and accounted for about 80% of the officer corps. The LAF category has remained virtually unchanged since the establishment of the Air Force as a separate service in 1947.

Now, rather than competing for promotion against 40 different career fields with varied job requirements, officers will compete against officers in other fields that have similar progression milestones, experiences and mission area focus. The new categories will allow each career field the freedom and agility to better tailor officer development to meet job demands without compromising competitive position at a promotion board.

The Air Force has released several reforms over the last couple years as part of a larger talent management system reform. Goldfein said the next phase of the reforms will address performance management.

“We believe maximizing the development of all Airmen is about having the right education, training and experiences. Getting this right enhances individual and unit performance,” Goldfein said. “Our goal through these efforts, and others, is to unleash the capabilities of our people to be ready for tomorrow’s fight.”

Categories for judge advocates, chaplains and medical personnel will remain unchanged.

A list of the new developmental categories and associated Air Force specialty codes is available at the MyPers website.