The Air Force said Thursday that it has selected 526 enlisted airmen for supplemental promotion to staff and technical sergeant in October.
This is the first promotion cycle since the Air Force roughly doubled the percentage of airmen eligible for supplemental promotion to staff sergeant due to fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The Air Force is promoting 346 airmen to staff sergeant and 180 to technical sergeant in the October supplemental cycle, the Air Force Personnel Center said.
Testing for airmen eligible for promotion to staff and technical sergeant was put on hold earlier this year as the coronavirus spread. Even after testing resumed, the Air Force limited how many airmen could test at one time due to social distancing requirements, so the testing deadlines were extended. Staff and tech sergeant promotions ended up being delayed a month, to September and August, respectively.
As a result, this year’s selection rate for staff sergeant was 41.58 percent — considerably lower than the 51.12 percent and 48.79 percent rates in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
The Air Force said Sept. 24 that some airmen’s tests had not yet been scored — or even taken — due to the safety precautions, delays and restrictions. They said about 15 percent of the 33,341 airmen and space professionals eligible for staff sergeant this year, or about 5,000 airmen, would be considered for supplemental promotion this year. That’s much higher than the supplemental eligibility rate in previous years, which usually ranged from 5 to 8 percent.
The 346 staff sergeant supplemental promotions in October is not significantly higher than other supplemental promotions earlier this year. It’s also considerably lower than the September 2019 staff sergeant supplemental, which selected more than 1,000 for promotion nearly a month after the standard E-5 promotion cycle.
But more testing and supplemental promotions are coming, AFPC spokesman Mike Dickerson said.
“We anticipate that we will continue to see additional [staff sergeant] selects as airmen continue to test,” Dickerson said in a Friday email. “Testing is done locally at the base level and has been impacted by COVID-driven delays. Once these airmen test, they will be considered in future in-system supplemental cycles.”
The list excludes the names of airmen in intelligence career fields, who work for the Office of Special Investigations, or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance airmen, whose names have not been released due to security concerns.
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.