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Absentee voter tips for military members

DOD photograph

Members of the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team pass on the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s message for U.S. military and overseas citizens to submit their absentee ballots in time for the upcoming general election.

With less than two months until the general election on Nov. 8, absentee voters are beginning to receive their state ballots.
During Absentee Voting Week — Sept. 26 through Oct. 3 — the Federal Voting Assistance Program reminds military and overseas citizens to submit their ballot as soon as possible and to follow up to ensure that that their ballot is received by their election office. Here are FVAP’s top reminders for ensuring Americans vote successfully — wherever they are:

Know that your absentee ballot counts the same as ballots cast at the poll site
All ballots submitted according to state laws are counted in every election. The media often will report the projected outcome of an election before all of the ballots are counted. In a close election, the media may report the preliminary results or say that the outcome cannot be announced until after the absentee ballots are counted. However, all ballots, including absentee ballots, are counted in the official totals for every election — and every vote (absentee or in-person) counts the same.

Check your state deadlines, instructions, and options
Each state sets its own deadlines for registering to vote and its options for how absentee ballots are sent to voters. States can also differ in their requirements and deadlines regarding how to complete and submit absentee ballots. Some states require ballots to be postmarked by Election Day while others must receive ballots by Election Day. FVAP.gov has your state’s deadlines and requirements.

Postmark and send your ballot on time
Every election, states receive some absentee ballots past the deadline for acceptance — but this is easily preventable. Follow your state’s specific deadlines and recommended mailing dates for returning your voted ballot. If you’re a registered military or overseas voter and don’t receive your requested state ballot early enough to submit it on time, you can go to the FVAP website and use the backup ballot called the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. Voters who end up receiving a state ballot after submitting a FWAB should still complete and return it, as well. States only count your backup ballot if your voted state ballot is not received by the deadline.

Fill out your ballot and election materials correctly
Many states have specific requirements for signing the envelope or an affidavit enclosed with your ballot. Be sure to follow the instructions sent with your ballot to ensure it gets counted.
Check that your voted ballot reaches its destination.
If you’re wondering if your vote made it home, check the status of your ballot by selecting your state at the FVAP website and contacting your election office directly.
Military and overseas voters who need to register or request a ballot can do so by filling out a Federal Post Card Application  at the FVAP website — by hand or using the online assistant — and sending it to their election office.
For additional information on this election or any upcoming federal election visit the FVAP website, email Vote@FVAP.gov or call 1-800-438-VOTE (8683).

Federal Voting Assistance Program
The Federal Voting Assistance Program is a Defense Department organization that works to ensure service members, their eligible family members, and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so — from anywhere in the world.
FVAP assists voters through partnerships with the military services, Department of State, Department of Justice, and election officials from the 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. State and local governments administer U.S. elections, including those for federal offices. FVAP supports state and local election officials by providing absentee voting information, materials, training and guidance.
Voters can contact FVAP’s call center at 1-800- 438-VOTE (8683), DSN 425-1584 or at vote@fvap.gov. Toll-free phone numbers from 67 countries are listed at the FVAP website. Find FVAP on Facebook at facebook.com/DoDFVAP and follow @FVAP on Twitter.

State of the Air Force: Active-duty force on the rise, space will be more prominent

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

Nearly three years into her tenure as the Air Force’s top leader, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James reaffirmed that people continue to be her top priority during her State of the Air Force address at the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference Sept. 19, in National Harbor, Md.

James also addressed key issues such as reversing downsizing efforts, modernization of aircraft and space domain efforts, and how a long-term continuing resolution would be detrimental to the Air Force.

Reflecting on her time as the Air Force’s leader, James said, “There have been no issues more important to me over the last 2 ½ years than people issues.”

Taking office in December 2013, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were dwindling, and personnel reductions continued, which “on paper,” James said made sense.

However, James said that as she traveled the world interacting with Airmen, it seemed that reductions were not the answer. Personnel shortages were putting a strain on Airmen. Global security issues began emerging, and Airmen were needed. Russia illegally invaded and annexed Crimea, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant continued to terrorize Syria and Iraq, more airpower was needed in the Pacific, and a presence was needed to protect the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

With the support of the president, Capitol Hill and defense leaders, by the end of the year the Air Force’s active-duty end strength is expected to reach 317,000.

Aside from increasing the active-duty strength, James said she is committed to preventing sexual assault, which continues to be a top priority. She also said areas of victim care and investigative assets will continue to be “ramped up.”

Modernization of aircraft, space
James said replacing and modernizing a fleet with an average aircraft age of 27 years old, is an absolute necessity to remain dominant in the airpower arena.

“Balancing this fleet with the current demand, reduced capacity of aircraft and personnel, and technological advances among our adversaries — you add all that up and it makes maintaining Air Force full-spectrum readiness very challenging,” James said.

However, perhaps even more important is to improve operability and advancements in space. During the past few years, billions of dollars have been invested into the space enterprise.

“Space is now contested and congested,” James said. “It’s extremely important to everything that we do in the military, including precision guidance; navigation; missile warning; weather; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and communications.”

During a strategic space review earlier this year, James said areas of focus included protecting satellite communication and missile warning missions, as well as, battle management, and command and control capabilities.

“Most importantly, we are changing the culture in our space enterprise,” James said. “We need to get our heads around for the future — what happens if a conflict on Earth extends to space? How will we defend our assets?”

James said this will affect how Airmen train, and will include building a space mission force ready for conflict that extends into the space domain. It will also mean the Air Force will operate differently, and the standing up of the Joint Interagency Space Operations Center at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., is proof of that.

Long-term continuing resolution would be detrimental
James said a short-term CR is all but certain and being able to manage in that state for three months or less is tolerable, however, anything longer would be harmful.

“A long-term CR would be very damaging for the Air Force,” James said. “For example it would reduce our funding overall for the Air Force by $1.3 billion.”

It would also limit training and readiness for all Airmen and have an impact on Guard and Reserve drill weekends as well as flying hours, according to James.

The ability to keep up with the air strikes on ISIL would also be at risk, as a long-term CR would reduce the ability to resupply stocks of precision munitions.

Some other areas a long-term CR would affect include capping the production of the KC-46A Pegasus, prevent progression of the B-21 Raider development, and delays to the construction of about 50 major construction projects, some of which would affect the F-35A Lightning II support facilities.

The B-21 has a name: Raider


The Air Force’s long-range strike bomber has officially been named the B-21 Raider.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced the results of the Air Force Global Strike Command led naming contest alongside selected members during her remarks at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2016.

“Today I want to recognize three Airmen who answered the call to be a part of a new Air Force legacy and name our new bomber,” James said.  “The first two … submitted proposals that captured the essence of the bomber force and they are the winners of our contest.”

The third Airmen James recognized, calling him one of the greatest men of his generation, was Doolittle Raider retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole.
The Doolittle Raiders are known for their surprise attack against Japan during World War II on April 18, 1942, which forced the Japanese to recall combat forces for home defense, and boosted morale among Americans and U.S. allies abroad.


The name was ultimately selected by James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein after a panel composed of staff from AFGSC and Headquarters Air Force determined the top-ranked selections from more than 2,100 unique naming submissions.

While there were multiple entries advocating for the B-21 to be dubbed Raider, Air Force officials said the members were selected based on the overall quality of their justification.

James has often highlighted the important role the B-21 Raider will play in allowing the Air Force to operate in tomorrow’s high end threat environment, and in providing the Air Force the flexibility and capability to launch from the continental United States and deliver air strikes on any location in the world. She has also cautioned of the delays the program could face under a continuing resolution.

“A short-term (continuing resolution) is manageable … but, let me tell you, a long-term continuing resolution would be very damaging for the Air Force,” James said. “(It would) cap the production of the KC-46, prevent us from devoting more funds to developing the B-21 next year, and delay about 50 construction projects.”

The service’s ability to divest old capabilities and build new is paramount, and modernization remains a priority for the Air Force as it continues to play a major role defending against current and emerging threats.

“We have the oldest aircraft fleet we have ever had, 27 years old on average,” James said. “This absolutely needs to be a focus for us.”

The B-21 Raider, designed based on a set of requirements that allow the use of existing and mature technology, is currently in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and the Air Force plans to field the initial capability of the aircraft in mid-2020s.

B-21 naming contest selected members:
·        Lt. Col. Jaime I. Hernandez, 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron commander, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas
·        Tech. Sgt. Derek D. White, emergency management craftsman, 175th Civil Engineering Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard 

A Brief History of the U.S. Air Force


For more than 100 years, the United States military has endeavored to master not just the battlefields that we sail or trod upon, but the realms of air and space.

As the U.S. Air Force approaches its 69th birthday as an independent service on Sept. 18, we take these few moments to reflect on where we began, and how Airmen of countless diverse backgrounds came together in times of peace and war to secure the nation’s freedom.

The Air Force’s history and heritage is rooted in the creation of the Aeronautical Division of the U.S. Signal Corps on Aug. 1, 1907. It consisted of one officer, Capt. Charles deForest Chandler, and two enlisted men, Cpl. Edward Ward and Pfc. Joseph E. Barrett. The division’s initial aircraft consisted of kite balloons, before acquiring its first official airplane from the Wright Brothers in September 1908 at a cost of $25,000. From this period until World War I, the Aeronautical Division acquired more aircraft and individuals such as Benjamin Foulois, Henry Arnold, and Roy Kirtland who established an early tradition of innovation and experimentation that has become the hallmark of our service.

World War I provided these aviators with the opportunity to test the limits of their daring in combat. The exploits of the Lafayette Escadrille, a volunteer flying unit under French command, provided the U.S. with an example of the capability of American pilots in air warfare. The official entry of the U.S. into the war coincided with the transformation of the Signal Corps’ air arm into a fully-fledged section conducting parallel air operations in training and combat actions, and requiring its own separate divisions in logistics, civil engineering, research and maintenance. On the battlefront, individuals such as Eddie Rickenbacker and Frank Luke became household names as they gained the status of combat aces.

By the end of the war, although nominally under the command of the U.S. Army, the unique nature of its mission began providing the first glimpses of independence to come, as iconoclastic personalities such as Billy Mitchell and Carl Spaatz sought to establish airpower within the military’s pecking order. The period between the world wars brought with it further innovations and watershed achievements in the field of aviation, ranging from aerial refueling to helicopters to the first rocket launches. Improvements in aircraft design led to new records in flight endurance, highlighted by the spectacular cross-Atlantic voyages of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. The Air Service itself was again redesignated as the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1926 and slowly grew to 15 groups and three wings by 1938.

As the world once again fell into global conflict in the late 1930s, the efforts by Mitchell and others to solidify airpower’s military importance paid off with the endorsement of President Franklin Roosevelt to increase the number of aircraft in the Air Corps to 20,000 planes—a wildly optimistic number at the time, but one that proved prescient after the attack on Pearl Harbor officially brought the country into war and forever changed the course of the nation’s history. Industrial factories sprouted up overnight to produce a seemingly never-ending supply of fighters, bombers and transport planes, while bases across the country were established to train Airmen in every conceivable aspect of aircraft combat and mission support. The “all-in” effort required of the American population not only led to the successful victory in battle, but the increased roles played by women and minorities in enabling this victory, such as the Women’s Army Air Corps and the Tuskegee Airmen, planted the first seeds of the civil rights movements that grew and have flourished across the country in the ensuing decades. At the end of the war, the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki forever cemented airpower as an equal component of U.S. military might.

As the United States assumed its place as a global superpower during and after the war, so too did the role of the Air Corps transform, first into the Army Air Forces in 1941 and finally as a separate branch known as the U.S. Air Force in 1947. As the U.S. and the Soviet Union settled into the Cold War, the Air Force took the lead in developing increasingly sophisticated weapons platforms, merely hinted at during World War II, which exponentially increased the capabilities of national defense. This resulted in both spectacular achievements as well as national tragedy as it evolved and grew into a truly strategic combat and defense force. The Korean War saw the full flower of jet fighter combat, aerial medical evacuations and aerial resupply, while the Vietnam conflict featured close air support, dogfights with air-to-air missiles, search and rescue, and massive multi-year bombing operations. The Air Force took the lead in extending the nation’s defense into the “final frontier” of space, establishing early warning networks for aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles while developing rocketry and spacecraft technology that allowed us to land men on the moon and place satellites in orbit around the earth.

Today, the Air Force continues its tradition of innovation, constantly striving to produce ever-more sophisticated platforms in both air and space to protect the nation from those who would seek to do us harm. Its pilots fly jet fighters that have not lost an air-to-air engagement in over 40 years, while its bombers can penetrate anywhere in the world protected by stealth technology. Its special operations and personnel recovery teams maintain the dedication of their forebears to “leave no one behind,” “so others may live.” Its space operators execute a 24-hour/7-day a week no-fail mission, watching our adversaries the world over with increasingly sophisticated satellites and sensors to detect even a hint of hostile action and enable the destruction of their decision cycle. All are supported by tens of thousands of dedicated support personnel in communications, logistics, civil engineering, aircraft maintenance, security forces, medicine, finance and dozens of other functions. As the world and its threats continue to evolve, so too will the U.S. Air Force in anticipating and meeting those threats to ensure that our liberties are sustained.

‘Be There’ suicide prevention theme resonates with troop values


Preventing suicide requires the commitment of all in the Defense Department, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a videotaped message at the Sept. 7 Suicide Prevention Month kickoff at the Pentagon.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert R. Ruark, military deputy to the acting Secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, echoed the chairman in his keynote remarks, and said this year’s theme, “Be There,” serves to raise awareness among military and civilian personnel, veterans, and their families and friends.

“The bottom line is that we care about our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, and that [caring] has to continue after their service ends,” Ruark said.

Personal experience
The general recounted three stories of those who took or tried to take their lives when he commanded 4,000 troops and a base comprising 8,000 people in Iraq in 2008. A lance corporal, he said, took his life with a week left in his deployment.

“It just floored me,” Ruark said. “And what I found out was we were doing all the right things,” to prevent suicide.

A memorial service was conducted for the departed Marine, Ruark recalled.

“I remember the outpouring of grief … for me, it was a significant learning point,” he said.

The second suicide Ruark experienced was a colonel — an attorney who was deployed to help with the Rule of Law. Ruark said he brought in experts comprising a combat stress team and psychologists to help personnel deal with grief.

“We had pilots, tankers, logisticians … everybody showed up because it bothered them,” he said.

When Ruark’s phone rang late one night in 2009, a young Marine corporal was in the surgical unit after attempting suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. The surgeon said the young Marine’s vital signs were stable. “I remember thinking, ‘He’s going to have to live with this,’” Ruark recounted.

The general recalled that he met the young corporal two years later at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Ruark recalled that the scarfaced young man told him, “Sir, I wish I knew then what I know now.”

Imparting knowledge to save lives
“If we can impart this knowledge and prevent [suicide] and get people to work beyond the immediacy of the moment and how things may be, they can go on to do well,” the general said.

The services have good strategies to fight suicide, Ruark said. “There is so much to reducing the number of suicides,” he said. ‘It’s a long-lasting commitment. You’ve got to have a strategy and campaign, and we’ve done that for eight years. Beyond basic leadership, it’s dealing with the newer challenges our young people and veterans [deal with].”

Ruark said many veterans want to reconnect with their battle buddies and other veterans, and often do so at reunions, athletic events and clubs. “It’s going on throughout the United States, and the public supports them,” he said.

Such regular connections help with such issues as suicide, the general said. “It’s one tool we can use,” he said.

“It’s tied to science,” said Keita Franklin, the director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office. “Social support is a key indicator for saving lives by being successful in suicide prevention. So reunions are a perfect forum for social support where they can extend well beyond their service time.”

Social media
Franklin warned against the dangers of social media that must be taken seriously. A DOD social media study found service members are talking about their risks online in open domains, she said.

“I don’t want folks to ignore that,” Franklin said. “Know that it’s not attention-seeking. Despite the fact they have 300 friends on social media, be that friend and offer yourself  the crisis line number — because ignoring those posts is dangerous.”

“There is a way to use the immediacy of social media to your advantage,” Ruark said. “A sergeant major once told me you need to befriend your troops on Facebook if you really want to see what’s going on.”

This year’s “Be There” theme will resonate with troops because it aligns with the military’s values of camaraderie, honor, courage and commitment, Ruark said.

“‘Be There’ will resonate because it’s a way to hit home that [suicide] is preventable,” the general said. “We need to address every commander so he makes resilience part of his or her drumbeat when talking to units. And we can help people cope with the immediacy of certain issues and how severe they may be by thinking about the broader picture.”

Nomination window open for 2017 Spirit of Hope Award


Nominations for the 2017 Spirit of Hope Award will be accepted by the Air Force Personnel Center through Feb. 20.

The award, named for comedian and actor Bob Hope, recognizes a military member, former military member, civilian or organization that epitomizes his values of duty, honor, courage, loyalty, commitment, integrity and selfless dedication.

Organizations and base-level personnel must contact their major command, combatant command, field operating agency or direct reporting unit for applicable suspense dates and additional information regarding nomination procedures.

Complete application procedures and deadlines are available at https://mypers.af.mil/. Select “Any” from the dropdown menu and search “Hope.” Each MAJCOM, COCOM, FOA or DRU may submit one nomination per category.

For more information about Air Force personnel programs, go to the myPers website.

Career Intermission Program provides hiatus from AF active duty


A year ago, Capt. Katie Evans, a personnel officer, had two choices: leave active duty to pursue full-time parenthood and hope to return some day, or apply for the new Career Intermission Program which would allow her to leave the service for a few years with a guaranteed return to active duty.

CIP provides active duty and career status AGR Airmen the opportunity for a one-time temporary transition from active duty to the Individual Ready Reserve for up to three years to meet personal or professional needs outside the service while also providing a mechanism for a seamless return to active duty.

Evans is married to an active duty officer and currently lives at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio as an Air Force spouse. She’ll return to active duty next June at the completion of her two-year hiatus.

“I was having a hard time balancing my duties as a mid-level captain and my medical issues during my pregnancy,” Evans said. “I was really stressed out and I felt like I was doing a disservice to my people and not doing my duty as flight commander.”

The long-term intent of this program is to retain the valuable experience and training of Airmen that might otherwise be lost by permanent separation.

“My husband and I had seen information about the program and decided that if it were to be offered, I would apply,” Evans said. “We had always talked about one of us staying home to raise our children until they were school-aged.”

Evans’ son was born Aug. 20, 2014, and the CIP application window that year opened Aug. 18.

Program participants sign an agreement that says they will to return to active duty in the same component from which they separated, and serve two months of active duty for every month of CIP participation.

Time spent in CIP doesn’t count toward eligibility for retirement, computation of total years of service, years of aviation service or years of service towards basic pay; nor are participants eligible for promotion consideration while in CIP.

Evans’ greatest concern about returning to active duty is being away from her career field for two years. However, she’s been inventive in keeping up on her professional development during her break.

“I’m afraid I’m going to miss something, especially in the personnel world where there’s been all these changes like the evaluation system,” Evans said. “I’ve stayed plugged in with a number of local personnel folks here and they’re keeping me up to date. If we weren’t living near a base where I could do that, it might be more difficult.”

Her advice for other Airmen who are considering CIP is a valuable reminder of Air Force core values. “Make no mistake, you’re still in the Air Force. What you do and what you say still reflects on your career.”

There are currently 57 participants in the Career Intermission Program. The application window closes Sept. 12 and a Total Force selection panel convenes in October at the Air Force Personnel Center.

Additional information and eligibility requirements can be found on at https://mypers.af.mil/; select “Any” from the search function and enter keyword “CIP.”

For more information about Air Force personnel programs, go to the myPers website.

Updated EPME reenlistment, promotion eligibility policy takes effect in January


The Air Force’s updated reenlistment and promotion eligibility policy, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires Airmen to complete their enlisted professional military education distance learning course within 12 months of the date they are notified by Air Force Personnel Center or automatically be rendered ineligible to reenlist, extend or promote until the requirement is met.

Airmen are encouraged to highlight their notification date and plan out their time in order to meet the requirement.

The Air Force began transitioning to a Time in Service, blended learning model of EPME in 2014, beginning with an updated SNCOA Distance Learning Course and a revamped in-resident “Advanced Leadership Experience” at the SNCO Academy. Last year, the NCOA transitioned to a distance learning course followed by an in-resident “Intermediate Leadership Experience.”  The blended learning model is designed to provide a higher level of professional education to the enlisted force.

“The in-resident portions build on what Airmen learn in the distance learning model,” said Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody. “It goes beyond the books and the tests. It builds on the roots planted in the distance component by combining scenarios, exercises and interaction with fellow Airmen … it’s not duplicative. It’s designed to be a leadership experience.”

In 2015, the Air Force notified roughly 61,000 Airmen to enroll in the NCOA or SNCOA distance learning courses. The delayed policy implementation means the course completion date for those Airmen was also pushed back to Jan. 1, 2017. With the deadline approaching quickly, there are still many Airmen who need to complete their EPME distance learning courses by the new policy implementation date or they will be ineligible to reenlist, extend or promote.

“If an Airman is projected for promotion prior to their suspense date, they will be allowed to promote,” said Master Sgt. Lisa Fleck, enlisted promotion policy superintendent. “If the same Airman fails to complete the course by the suspense date, the promotion sequence number will be placed into withhold status.”

This means if the course is not completed by the end of the promotion cycle, the Airman will lose their projected line number and it will not be reinstated, regardless of completion. 

Fleck also noted there seems to be confusion regarding the “course extension” and “course deferment” definitions. The extension is an administrative tool used by Air University to track length of enrollment and does not extend an Airman’s mandatory suspense date as determined by AFPC.

The deferment, on the other hand, is a tool commanders can use to delay the completion date of the course if there are factors that would prevent an Airman from completing the course within the 12-month completion period.

“Our enlisted professional military education is critical to our development as leaders in the profession of arms,” Cody said. “We’re also certainly aware of mission demands and extenuating circumstances in our Airmen’s lives. Commanders have the ability to request an extension and should certainly do so if it’s in the best interest of their Airmen.”

More information about EPME is available on at https://mypers.af.mil/. Click “Force Development” from the active duty enlisted landing page, then the Enlisted Professional Military Education link. For more information about Air Force personnel programs, go to the myPers website.

AF opens enlisted RPA pilot program to all AFSCs


Using a phased-application approach, Air Force senior leaders are casting a wider net to ensure more active-duty enlisted Airmen are eligible to apply for the service’s RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft program, a Pentagon official said Aug. 29.

The program expands the eligibility pool from career-enlisted aviators to all Air Force specialty codes with a revised timeline in which Airmen now have from Sept. 1-Oct. 14 to take the computer-based Air Force Enlisted Pilot Qualifying Test (AFEPQT) and the Test of Basic Aviation Skills (TBAS), said Senior Master Sgt. Kimberly Pollard, an RPA enlisted specialty manager.

“The timeline has become more specific and gives Airmen more time to test, to prepare their applications, and to complete their flight physicals” Pollard said. “Now all Airmen should be able to take advantage of this program if they meet the qualifications.”

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James explained the rationale behind the expansion and timeline change in which the first board packages are due by Dec. 16.

“Expanding opportunities in the RPA program is one of many ways the Air Force is tapping into the talent of our skilled, diverse and innovative enlisted force,” she said. “This gives Airmen an opportunity to excel in a new way, and we couldn’t be more pleased to open the doors.”

According to the Air Force Personnel Center, Airmen who meet the eligibility requirements may begin Phase 1 and signal their intent to apply by taking the AFEPQT/TBAS at the nearest testing facility, located by visiting the AFPC’s website and clicking on the “PCSM,” or pilot candidate selection method, link at the bottom of the page.

Additionally, interested applicants who have previously taken the pilot portion of the Air Force Officer Qualifying Training or the paper AFEPQT may request their scores be considered if they do not wish to take the new computer-based AFEPQT.

Finally, interested applicants who have taken the AFOQT or the paper AFEPQT within the past 180 days are prohibited from taking the AFEPQT again but may still send an email to confirm their intent to apply.

Applicants must hold a rank from staff sergeant through senior master sergeant and be retainable for six years from course graduation date. Airman in all AFSCs are eligible for this program; however, a career field manager release is required for Airmen receiving a critical skills retention bonus or for Airmen in the following AFSCs: aerospace maintenance (2AXXX); battlefield Airmen (1C2XX, 1C4XX, 1T2XX, 1W0X2, 3E8XX); cyber (1B4X1, 3D0X2, 3D0X3, 3D1X2); missile maintenance (2M0XX); and nuclear weapons (2W2XX). Selection opportunities may be further limited or restricted during the board for some career fields in order to maintain acceptable operational manning levels.

Pollard explained that the AFEPQT, which covers four areas to include math and aviation knowledge, takes about 85 minutes while TBAS is a 75-minute exam. Testing terminals are located at 54 Air Force and Air National Guard bases, 54 ROTC detachments, and 65 military entrance processing stations (MEPS). Airmen can contact the military personnel element/flight customer support section or the base education office for more information regarding AFEPQT and TBAS testing.

Airmen who’ve already amassed off-duty flying hours can apply that experience toward their score, which Pollard said is the same scoring system used to select Air Force officer pilots.

“AFEPQT and TBAS scores are combined with an applicant’s flying hours to generate a pilot candidate selection method (PCSM) score, which if high enough, enables an Airman to advance to Phase 2 of the application process,” she said.

All applicants will be considered based on their test scores. No later than Oct. 28, AFPC will announce a pool of 200-300 candidates for Phase II, which entails submitting all of the required application documents to AFPC and completing an Air Force initial flying class II physical examination. Airmen will have until Jan. 27 to submit a certified flight physical to AFPC.

The results of the inaugural Air Force Enlisted RPA Pilot Selection Board, which meets Feb. 6-Feb. 9, will be released in late February 2017.

“The Air Force is a place of opportunity,” said Pollard, who was once an open general enlistee. “You may not have a full road map when you’re offered these opportunities so it’s up to you to say ‘yes,’ and ask yourself ‘why not me?’”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein expressed the importance of the ISR force.

“Our ISR capabilities are in demand by every combatant commander in every region,” he said. “We must continue to ensure that we recruit, train and retain the very best in our RPA force. They are simply vital to the joint fight and a strategic resource for our nation.”

Complete eligibility requirements and application procedures are available on myPers. From the dropdown menu, select “Active Duty AF Enlisted” and search “enlisted RPA.

Yesterday’s Air Force: Archie Williams


As an Olympic gold medalist and command pilot, Lt. Col. Archie Williams proved time and again his skill, discipline and determination were among the best.