About 18,000 airmen in seven career fields this month will begin testing a new system that aims to make it easier for them to find their next assignments.

Under the old Base of Preference system, airmen submitted their requests for where they wanted to be reassigned — but they had no idea whether that base actually had vacancies they could fill, Air Force Personnel Center spokesman Mike Dickerson said in an email.

The new Base of Preference program aims to change that.

Under the new system, which began testing this month, bases will advertise what jobs they have available on myPers on a quarterly basis, Dickerson said. This will provide airmen transparency when they request their next locations, AFPC said, so they aren’t essentially taking shots in the dark.

This will also increase their opportunities to relocate, Dickerson said, since they’ll know where the manning vacancies are.

“This is an exciting and innovative initiative that will begin to reshape how we look at enlisted assignments,” Chief Master Sgt. Jennifer Holton, superintendent for AFPC’s Support Airmen Career Management Branch said in a March 15 release.

The seven career fields that are taking part in the test are 2G0X1 logistics plans, 2S0X1 materiel management, 3D1X3 RF transition systems, 3F5X1 administration, 4A0X1 health services management, 6C0X1 contracting, and 6F0X1 financial management and comptroller.

It will also include developmental special duty airmen coming off of Assignment Availability Code 50s — special jobs with time limits set on their service — and return to one of those seven jobs. The jobs were chosen so the Air Force could have a diverse slate of career fields testing the program.

However, airmen will only have 10 days to apply for advertised jobs under the new program. Until now, because jobs have not been advertised, there has been no deadline.

“The shorter application window is the trade-off for location visibility, as base manning can change rapidly,” Holton said in the release. “Airmen in the field need to note how critical this 10-day listing is, compared to the previous system, which allowed submissions at any time and were processed at the end of the quarter.”

The Air Force also hopes to notify airmen about their reassignments on a quicker, steadier basis.

Under the current program, a first-term airman can apply monthly, depending on eligibility, but processing can take up to six weeks. Career airmen’s applications are reviewed on a quarterly basis, and also take up to six weeks to process after the quarter has closed out.

The new system seeks to re-align all the applications into a single, quarterly cycle. Dickerson said this will allow the Air Force to tell airmen whether their applications have been approved or denied within two weeks of the close of the advertisement.

Airmen will also be able to re-request jobs at a certain location under the new system, even if they previously had an application to those locations disapproved.

AFPC will start sending messages to airmen in those seven career fields this month, including cutoff dates for applications submitted under the old program and the timeline for the test program.

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 Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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