The Air Force on Thursday released the list of 8,167 enlisted airmen who were chosen for promotion to technical sergeant.

About 21 percent of those selected, or 1,719 airmen, received a “promote now” recommendation, giving them the greatest chance of getting promoted to E-6. The Air Force said that 97.7 percent of all eligible airmen with a promote now were selected for promotion.

Another 2,268 selectees received a “must promote” recommendation, or 27.8 percent of the total population, and 4,180, or 51.2 percent, received a “promote” recommendation. The Air Force said that 71.4 percent of all eligible airmen who received a must promote were selected, and 20.6 percent of all who received a promote were selected.

The Air Force began using those quotas, or “forced distribution,” rankings in last year’s promotion cycle as part of an effort to better judge performance when deciding who gets promotions. The Air Force also enacted quotas to try to eliminate the out-of-control grade inflation commonly known as the “firewall 5,” which many felt left the old enlisted promotion system effectively incapable of differentiating between different levels of performance.

The Air Force on July 11 announced that 31.96 percent of eligible staff sergeants were selected for tech sergeant, which is by far the highest selection rate in 15 years and a 9.6 percentage-point jump over last year’s rate. A large part of that change happened because the number of eligible airmen declined, in large part because 5,489 staff sergeants were made ineligible for promotion because they didn’t finish their required online professional military education course.

The average time-in-grade for selectees was 4.3 years, and the average time-in-service was 9.19 years, although longevity no longer adds points to airmen’s scores when they’re up for promotion. The overall average score for selectees was 358.50, based on average scores of 212.02 for enlisted performance reports, 5.40 for decorations, 70.90 for the promotion fitness examination, and 69.11 for the specialty knowledge test.

The career fields with at least 10 selectees that had the lowest cutoff scores, indicating where competition was lighter, were 2A8X2J mobility air forces integrated instrument and flight control systems for tanker instrument and flight control systems, 2A8X2E mobility air forces integrated instrument and flight control systems for the cargo IFCS, 2A3X8 remotely-piloted aircraft maintenance, 1N2X1C signals intelligence analysts with a communications specialty, and 2R1X1 maintenance management production.

The career fields with at least 10 selectees that had the highest cutoff scores, indicating where competition was toughest, were 1A8X2 airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operators, 8T000 professional military education instructors, 1U0X1 RPA sensor operators, 3E8X1 explosive ordnance disposal and 3N1X1 regional band musicians.

The list of selectees can be found here.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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