The first officer promotions since the Air Force broke up its massive Line of the Air Force category will take place early in 2020.

The Air Force announced in October that the LAF group — which encompassed about 87 percent of active-duty officers in more than 40 Air Force specialty codes — would be split into six officer development groupings for promotions and managing their careers.

Air Force officials said it represented the largest change in how officers are managed since the service’s creation more than seven decades ago.

The lieutenant colonel promotion board scheduled to meet in March will be the first to use the new categories.

The six new categories will be:

♦ Air Operations and Special Warfare, which includes pilots

♦ Space Operations

♦ Nuclear and Missile Operations

♦ Information Warfare, which includes cyber and intelligence officers

♦ Combat Support, which includes maintenance, logistics and security forces officers

♦ Force Modernization, which includes engineers and acquisition officers

Their overall promotion board process will remain unchanged. But instead of competing against airmen from dozens of other jobs, officers will be competing against a much smaller cohort from jobs closer to their own.

The Air Force believes officers will also benefit from having their development paths tailored more specifically to their jobs.

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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