Number of promotion opportunities for special performers to increase

WASHINGTON — Air Force officials have announced changes to the Stripes for Exceptional Performers program, a program designed to promote enlisted Airmen early who demonstrate exceptional potential. The changes will take effect immediately.

Major changes include increasing the number of stripes, also known as promotions, commanders can award and adjusting the timelines for the program. For fiscal year 2018, officials have increased the number of stripes available from 96 to 180.

This increase was based on feedback from commanders and senior enlisted leaders in field and through comments received during the 2018 Enlisted Force Development Panel. Feedback from commanders at the Wing and Group Commanders’ courses and through various working groups also helped drive the change. Increasing the number of promotions available under STEP advances the Air Force priority of building exceptional leaders.

“Increasing STEP allocations is another way we’re empowering commanders at every level to identify and reward their top performers,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein.

The increase provides all major commands and the Central Base Board with at least two STEP quotas and provides additional promotion opportunities to the enlisted force. The change should have no measurable impact on the traditional enlisted promotion process and will not reduce promotion allocations available to Airmen competing for promotion under the Weighted Airmen Promotion System.

With the increase in STEP allocations to the timing of STEP promotions, board requirements will also change. First, the timing of the STEP process will shift to no earlier than September allowing in-cycle promotions to be announced prior to STEP nomination deadlines.

Next, the requirements for the Central and Combatant Command STEP boards have been aligned to more closely match the Enlisted Force Development Process. The board process will now require up to the last three enlisted evaluations in the nominees current grade with a 1206 with up to five bullets detailing recent accomplishments that occurred since the close out of the member’s most recent enlisted performance report.

This reduces the administrative requirements placed on units from previous requirements by up to 25 bullets per package.

“Not only does this help support our senior leaders’ focus on revitalizing squadrons but it also helps to save Airmen’s time,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright. “We’re allowing commanders more opportunities to recognize those Airmen who have demonstrated sustained performance at the next level.”

The STEP program was established in 1980 and was designed to meet those unique circumstances that, in the commander’s judgment, clearly warrant promotion. Under the STEP program, commanders of MAJCOMs, field operating agencies and senior officers in organizations with large enlisted populations may promote a limited number of Airmen who show exceptional potential to the grades of staff and technical sergeant.

Commanders must ensure Airmen promoted under STEP meet eligibility requirements including completion of the appropriate enlisted professional military education. An individual may not receive more than one promotion under any combination of promotion programs within a 12-month period. STEP promotion opportunities are limited, therefore commanders are encouraged to recognize and promote their exemplary performers who meet minimum promotion eligibility criteria.

The Air Force Personnel Center will release full guidelines for the FY 2018 STEP process, including quotas for all MAJCOMs, COCOMs and units meeting the central board, via myPers at https://mypers.af.mil.