The Air Force is greatly expanding a program that makes it easier for certain airmen in all career fields to find their next assignments.

Beginning Jan. 9, Air Force Personnel Center officials said, certain enlisted airmen will be able to apply for permanent change of station assignments in the continental United States, or CONUS, using the new Base of Preference system.

To qualify, those airmen must have served at their current station for 48 months, and must now be assigned to a CONUS location. But the program is now open to eligible career airmen — or an airman who has re-enlisted and is no longer on his first term — in all Air Force specialty codes, and is being made permanent.

The Air Force launched the new system in April. It aims to give airmen a clearer picture of what jobs are available at certain locations when they request their next assignments. At first, the Air Force opened it up to about 18,000 airmen in seven career fields, and added three more career fields in July.

“This final step in the initiative normalizes the process we began in April, simplifying the [Base of Preference] application so airmen and commanders can make professional development and career decisions by aligning preferences with available requirements,” said Ron Gallucci, AFPC’s assignments programs and procedures program manager.

Under the old Base of Preference system, airmen coming up on a permanent change of station submitted their requests for where they wanted to be reassigned, but they had no idea whether that base actually had vacancies that they could fill. They were effectively taking shots in the dark, hoping they’d stumble on a job at a decent base.

But with the new system, bases will advertise what jobs they have available on myPers on a quarterly basis. That way, airmen can tell whether they have a chance at a job at their dream base — and won’t waste time if nothing’s available.

The new program expands airmen’s opportunities to relocate, since they know where the manning vacancies are. AFPC spokesman Mike Dickerson said it only applies to CONUS airmen because it is a PCS program, and overseas deployments are handled differently.

In January, the personnel center it will start to post CONUS vacancies on the Assignment Management System. Those announcements will specify the Air Force specialty code and required skill level of each vacancy.

It will also send messages directly to eligible CONUS airmen, including cutoff dates and links to submit their applications.

“This evolution provides transparency to commanders and airmen alike,” Galluci said. “It’s important that AFPC remains agile, innovative and responsive to airmen’s needs and Air Force requirements.”

The first seven career fields to use the new Base of Preference program were 2G0X1 logistics plans, 2S0X1 materiel management, 3D1X3 RF transmission systems, 3F5X1 administration, 4A0X1 health services management, 6C0X1 contracting, and 6F0X1 financial management and comptroller. The Air Force later added 4P0X1 pharmacy, 3F0X1 personnel and 1C4X1 tactical air control party airmen.

Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.

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