The Air Force is moving forward with more plans to modernize its performance reviews and promotions amid delays to some of its flagship upgrades.

In 2022, the service slashed the number of airmen picked for promotion to mid-level enlisted ranks. Restructuring the enlisted corps aims to give those airmen more experience to be better leaders once they reach positions of responsibility. It’s also meant to make the service less top-heavy and regrow its middle management.

For instance, the Air Force in August 2022 chose just over 20% of eligible senior airmen for promotion to staff sergeant — a steep drop from the previous year’s 35% selection rate. Promotion rates in 2023 will partially depend on how many people in crowded ranks leave the Air Force.

Air Force spokesperson Tech. Sgt. Deana Heitzman said the shakeup is having a positive effect so far.

Airmen could finally start taking the Weighted Airmen Promotion System test online in 2023, Heitzman added. The paper exam weighs enlisted airmen for promotion to staff sergeant (E-5) and technical sergeant (E-6).

Meanwhile, the performance evaluations that play a large role in promotions continue to struggle.

A new review system is still on hold as the Air Force tries to fix technical glitches that have rendered the software unusable.

“MyEval conducted a beta test, which was completed in December 2021, prior to the initial myEval launch in February 2022,” Heitzman said. “The future myEval will launch when additional testing is complete.”

The content of performance reviews will change in 2023, too. Instead of bullet lists that try to cram as much information in as little space as possible, the service wants airmen to write paragraphs describing how they embody a set of personal and professional traits called “airman leadership qualities.”

Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.

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