The number of airmen being promoted to senior master sergeant, as well as the selection rate, has dropped sharply in 2020.
The Air Force Personnel Center said in a release Monday that 1,184 master sergeants, out of 15,544 eligible airmen, have been selected for promotion to E-8.
That means the E-8 selection rate for 2020 is 7.62 percent — the lowest rate since the worst days of the drawdown in 2014, and significantly lower than the last four years of senior master sergeant promotions. Selection rates hit a recent high of 12.32 percent in 2016, then declined to a little less than 12 percent the following two years, and dropped further to 10.77 percent in 2019.
In an email, AFPC spokesman Mike Dickerson said the lower selection rate is partially because there was a significantly larger pool of eligible airmen this year. The last two years each saw a little more than 13,000 master sergeants eligible for promotion, and in 2017, even fewer airmen were eligible: 11,788.
By dropping the Weighted Airman Promotion System tests for SNCO promotions, the Air Force hopes to prevent sub-par leaders from squeaking through the promotion process by testing well.
Dickerson also said the lower number of promotion slots allocated to the Air Force were enough to meet its requirements around the world. Last year, the Air Force promoted 1,434 airmen to E-8, and in 2018, there were 1,549 promotions.
The Air Force will release the list of selectees on March 3, and airmen will also be able to see their scores online.
Selectees will begin to be promoted beginning April 1.