|Air Force Special Operations Command|
Shield of Air Force Special Operations Command
|Active||22 May 1990 – present (as Air Force Special Operations Command)|
10 February 1983 - 22 May 1990 (as 23d Air Force)
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Role||"Provide our Nation’s specialized airpower, capable across the spectrum of conflict … Any Place, Any Time, Anywhere"|
|Part of||United States Special Operations Command|
|Headquarters||Hurlburt Field, Florida, U.S.|
|Motto(s)||"Any place. Any time. Anywhere"|
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
|Commander||Lt GenMarshall B. Webb|
|Deputy Commander||Maj Gen Michael T. Plehn|
|Command Chief||CCM Gregory A. Smith|
|Twenty-Third Air Force shield (former) (approved May 1983)|
|Attack||AC-130U/W/J, MQ-1B, MQ-9|
|Transport||C-145A, C-146A, CV-22B|
Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), headquartered at Hurlburt Field, Florida, is the special operations component of the United States Air Force. An Air Force major command (MAJCOM), AFSOC is also the U.S. Air Force component command to United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), a unified combatant command located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. AFSOC provides all Air Force Special Operations Forces (SOF) for worldwide deployment and assignment to regional unified combatant commands.
Before 1983, Air Force special operations forces were primarily assigned to the Tactical Air Command (TAC) and were generally deployed under the control of U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) or, as had been the case during the Vietnam War, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). Just as it had relinquished control of the C-130 theater airlift fleet to Military Airlift Command (MAC) in 1975, TAC relinquished control of Air Force SOF to MAC in December 1982.
AFSOC was initially established on 10 February 1983 as Twenty-Third Air Force (23 AF), a subordinate numbered air force of MAC, with 23 AF headquarters initially established at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. On 1 August 1987, 23 AF headquarters moved to Hurlburt Field, Florida.
Predecessor USAAF and USAF special operations units
World War II
Early Cold War era
Vietnam War era
Late Cold War era
- Activated on 1 March 1983
- Redesignated Air Force Special Operations Command and made a major command on 22 May 1990
- Air Forces Special Operations Center (redesignated 623d Air and Space Operations Center): 13 Dec 2005 – 1 Jan 2008
- Twenty-Third Air Force (Air Forces Special Operations Forces): 1 Jan 2008 – 4 April 2013
- AFSOC Operations Center: 4 April 2013 – present
- 2d Air Division, 1 March 1983 – 1 February 1987
- Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service, 1 March 1983 – 1 August 1989
- Air Rescue Service, 1 August 1989 - 1993
- 1st Special Operations Wing, 1 February 1987 – present
- 24th Special Operations Wing, 12 June 2012 – present
- 27th Special Operations Wing, 1 Oct 2007 – present
- 41st Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance Wing, 1 October 1983 – 1 August 1989
- 352d Special Operations Wing, 1 October 1983 – present
- 353d Special Operations Group, 6 April 1989 – present
- 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing: 1 January 1984 – 1 February 1990
- 492d Special Operations Wing: 10 May 2017 – present
- 720th Special Tactics Group: 1 October 1987 – 12 June 2012
- 724th Special Tactics Group: 29 Apr 2011 – 12 June 2012
- 1550th Aircrew Training and Test Wing (later, 1550th Combat Crew Training Wing): 1 October 1983 – 21 May 1990
- USAF Special Operations School, 1 February 1987 – 22 May 1990
- Air Force Special Operations Training Center, 8 October 2008 – 11 February 2013
- Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center, 11 February 2013 – 10 May 2017
- 23d Weather Squadron
- 1st Special Operations Support Squadron
- 4th Special Operations Squadron, AC-130U Spooky
- 8th Special Operations Squadron, CV-22B Osprey
- 9th Special Operations Squadron*, MC-130P Combat Shadow
- 11th Intelligence Squadron
- Det 1, 11th Intelligence Squadron, is a GSU at Fort Bragg, North Carolina
- 15th Special Operations Squadron, MC-130H Combat Talon II
- 23d Special Operations Weather Squadron
- 34th Special Operations Squadron, U-28A
- 319th Special Operations Squadron, U-28A
- 17th Special Tactics Squadron, Fort Benning, Georgia
- 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, North Carolina
- 22d Special Tactics Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
- 23d Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida
- 26th Special Tactics Squadron, Cannon AFB, New Mexico
- 720th Operations Support Squadron
- 24th Special Tactics Squadron
- 724th Operations Support Squadron
- 724th Intelligence Squadron
- 724th Special Tactics Training Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida
- 3d Special Operations Squadron, MQ-1 Predator
- 16th Special Operations Squadron, AC-130H Spectre
- 20th Special Operations Squadron, CV-22B Osprey
- 27th Special Operations Support Squadron
- 33d Special Operations Squadron, MQ-9 Reaper
- 43d Intelligence Squadron
- 56th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron
- 73d Special Operations Squadron, AC-130W Stinger II
- 318th Special Operations Squadron, U-28A, C-145A Skytruck
- 522d Special Operations Squadron, MC-130J Commando II
- 524th Special Operations SquadronC-146A
- 7th Special Operations Squadron, CV-22B Osprey
- 67th Special Operations Squadron, MC-130J Commando II
- 321st Special Tactics Squadron
- 1st Special Operations Squadron MC-130H Combat Talon II
- 17th Special Operations Squadron MC-130P Combat Shadow
- 320th Special Tactics Squadron
- 6th Special Operations Squadron, UH-1N Iroquois, Mi-8, C-130E Hercules, An-26, C-47T
- 18th Flight Test Squadron
- Det 1, 18th Flight Test Squadron is a GSU at Edwards AFB, California
- 19th Special Operations Squadron, AC-130U, MC-130H
- 371st Special Operations Combat Training Squadron
- 551st Special Operations Squadron, AC-130H, AC-130W, MC-130J
- United States Air Force Special Operations School, Hurlburt Field, Florida
Air National Guard (ANG) units
- 193d Special Operations Squadron, EC-130J Commando Solo III
- 150th Special Operations Squadron, New Jersey Air National Guard, McGuire AFB, New Jersey; C-32B
- AFSOC-gained ANG units aligned under AMC-gained or ACC-gained ANG wings
- 123d Special Tactics Squadron, Kentucky Air National Guard, Louisville ANGB, Kentucky
- 125th Special Tactics Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard, Portland ANGB, Oregon
- 137th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron, Michigan Air National Guard, Selfridge ANGB, Michigan
- 209th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, Mississippi Air National Guard, Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center, Mississippi
- 280th Special Operations Communications Squadron, Alabama Air National Guard, Dothan Regional Airport ANGS, Alabama
- 107th Weather Flight, Michigan Air National Guard, Selfridge ANGB, Michigan
- 146th Weather Flight, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, Pittsburgh IAP Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania
- 181st Weather Flight, Texas Air National Guard, NAS Fort Worth JRB/Carswell Field, Texas
Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) units
- 2d Special Operations Squadron (GSU at Hurlburt Field, Florida), MQ-9 Reaper
- 5th Special Operations Squadron, U-28
- 711th Special Operations Squadron, C-145A Skytruck
Personnel and resources
AFSOC has about 15,000 active-duty, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and civilian personnel.
The commander of AFSOC is Lieutenant GeneralBradley A. Heithold.
Major GeneralEugene Haase is Vice Commander, and Chief Master SergeantMatthew Caruso is the Command Chief Master Sergeant, Air Force Special Operations Command.
The command's SOF units are composed of highly trained, rapidly deployable airmen who are equipped with specialized aircraft. These forces conduct global special operations missions ranging from precision application of firepower, to infiltration, aviation foreign internal defense, exfiltration, resupply and aerial refueling of SOF operational elements.
In addition to the pilots, combat systems officers, and enlisted aircrew who fly AFSOC's aircraft, there is a highly experienced support force of maintenance officers and enlisted aircraft maintenance personnel who maintain these complex aircraft and their support systems, a cadre of premier intelligence officers and enlisted intelligence specialists well versed in special operations, as well as logisticians, security forces and numerous other support officers and personnel.
Another aspect of AFSOC is Special Tactics, the U.S. Air Force's special operations ground force. Similar in ability and employment to Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC), U.S. Army Special Forces and U.S. Navy SEALs, Air Force Special Tactics personnel are typically the first to enter combat and often find themselves deep behind enemy lines in demanding, austere conditions, usually with little or no support.
The command's Special Tactics Squadrons are led by Special Tactics Officers (STOs). Special Tactics Squadrons combine Combat Controllers, Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), Special Operations Weather Technicians, Pararescuemen (PJs) and Combat Rescue Officers (CROs) to form versatile SOF teams. AFSOC's unique capabilities include airborne radio and television broadcast for psychological operations, as well as combat aviation advisors to provide other governments military expertise for their internal development.
Due to the rigors of the career field, Special Tactics' year-long training is one of the most demanding in the military, with attrition rates between 80 and 90 percent. In an attempt to reduce the high attrition, Special Tactics is very selective when choosing their officers. Special Tactics Officers (STO) undergo a highly competitive process to gain entry into the Special Tactics career field, ensuring only the most promising and capable leaders are selected. STO leadership and role modeling during the difficult training reduces the attrition rate for enlisted trainees.
STO selection is a two-phase process. Beginning with Phase One, a board of veteran STOs reviews application packages consisting of letters of recommendation, fitness test scores, and narratives written by the applicants describing their career aspirations and reasons for applying. Based on Phase One performance, about eight to 10 applicants are invited to the next phase. Phase Two is a weeklong battery of evaluations, ranging from physical fitness and leadership to emotional intelligence and personality indicators. At the end of Phase Two, typically two to four applicants are selected to begin the year-plus Special Tactics training pipeline.
AFSOC regularly operates the following aircraft:
Additionally, AFSOC, through its Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center, possess and operates a small number of the following aircraft for its special training mission and Aviation Foreign Internal Defense (FID) missions:
New AC-130J and MC-130J aircraft based on the Lockheed Martin KC-130J Super Hercules tanker variant are being acquired and sent to certain AFSOC units. MC-130J aircraft have already entered service while the AC-130J continues developmental testing in preparation for an Initial Operational Capability (IOC) with AFSOC projected for FY 2017
Twenty-Third Air Force (23 AF)
In December 1982, the Air Force transferred responsibility for Air Force special operations from Tactical Air Command (TAC) to Military Airlift Command (MAC). Consequently, in March 1983, MAC activated Twenty-Third Air Force (23 AF) at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. This new numbered air force's responsibilities included worldwide missions of special operations, combat rescue, weather reconnaissance and aerial sampling, security support for intercontinental ballistic missile sites, training of USAF helicopter and HC-130 crewmen, pararescue training, and medical evacuation.
Operation Urgent Fury
In October 1983, 23 AF helped rescue Americans from the island nation of Grenada. During the seven-day operation, centered at Point Salines Airport, 23 AF furnished MC-130s, AC-130s, aircrews, maintenance, and support personnel. An EC-130 from the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the Air National Guard (ANG) also played a psy-war role. Lieutenant Colonel (later Major General) James L. Hobson, Jr., an MC-130 pilot and commander of the 8th Special Operations Squadron, was later awarded the Mackay Trophy for his actions in leading the air drop on the Point Salines Airport.
U.S. Special Operations Command
In May 1986, the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act led to the formation of the United States Special Operations Command. SenatorsWilliam Cohen and Sam Nunn introduced the Senate bill, and the following month Congressman Dan Daniel introduced a like measure in the House of Representatives. The key provisions of the legislation formed the basis to amend the 1986 Defense Authorizations Bill. This bill, signed into law in October 1986, in part directed the formation of a unified command responsible for special operations. In April 1987, the DoD established the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and Army GEN James J. Lindsay assumed command. Four months later, 23 AF moved its headquarters from Scott AFB to Hurlburt Field, Florida.
In August 1989, Gen Duane H. Cassidy, USAF, CINCMAC, divested 23 AF of its non-special operations units, e.g., search and rescue, weather reconnaissance, etc. Thus, 23 AF served a dual role: still reporting to MAC, but also functioning as the air component to USSOCOM.
Operation Just Cause
From late December 1989 to early January 1990, 23 AF participated in the invasion of the Republic of Panama during Operation Just Cause. Special operations aircraft included both active duty AC-130H and Air Force Reserve AC-130A Spectre gunships, EC-130 Volant Solo psychological operations aircraft from the Air National Guard, HC-130P/N Combat Shadow tankers, MC-130E Combat Talons, and MH-53J Pave Low and MH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters. Special tactics Combat Controllers and Pararescuemen provided important support to combat units.
Spectre gunship crews of the 1 SOW earned the Mackay Trophy and Tunner Award for their efforts, with an Air Force Reserve AC-130A Spectre crew from the 919th Special Operations Group (919 SOG) earning the President's Award. An active duty 1st SOW MC-130 Combat Talon crew ferried the captured Panamanian President, Manuel Noriega, to prison in the United States. Likewise, the efforts of the 1 SOW maintenance people earned them the Daedalian Award.
On 22 May 1990, General Larry D. Welch, USAF, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, redesignated Twenty-Third Air Force as Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). This new major command consisted of three wings: the 1st, 39th and 353rd Special Operations Wings as well as the 1720th Special Tactics Group (1720 STG), the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School, and the Special Missions Operational Test and Evaluation Center.
Currently, after major redesignations and reorganizations, AFSOC direct reporting units include the 16th Special Operations Wing, the 352nd Special Operations Group, the 353rd Special Operations Group, the 720th Special Tactics Group (720 STG), the USAF Special Operations School and the 18th Flight Test Squadron (18 FLTS). During the early 1990s a major reorganization occurred within AFSOC. The 1720 STG became the 720 STG in March 1992; the transfer of ownership of Hurlburt Field from Air Mobility Command (AMC, and formerly MAC) to AFSOC in October 1992, followed by the merger of the 834th Air Base Wing (834 ABW) into the 1 SOW, which assumed host unit responsibilities. A year later the 1 SOW became the 16 SOW in a move to preserve Air Force heritage.
Meanwhile, the Special Missions Operational Test and Evaluation Center (SMOTEC), which explored heavy liftfrontiers in special operations capabilities, while pursuing better equipment and tactics development, was also reorganized. In April 1994, the Air Force, in an effort to standardize these types of organizations, redesignated SMOTEC as the 18th Flight Test Squadron (18 FLTS).
From early August 1990 to late February 1991, AFSOC participated in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, the protection of Saudi Arabia and liberation of Kuwait. Special tactics personnel operated throughout the theater on multiple combat control and combat rescue missions. Special operations forces performed direct action missions, combat search and rescue, infiltration, exfiltration, air base ground defense, air interdiction, special reconnaissance, close air support, psychological operations, and helicopter air refuelings. Pave Low crews led the helicopter assault on radars to blind Iraq at the onset of hostilities, and they also accomplished the deepest rescue for which they received the Mackay Trophy.
MC-130E/H Combat Talons dropped the BLU-82, the largest conventional bombs of the war and, along with MC-130P Combat Shadows, dropped the most psychological warfare leaflets, while AC-130A and AC-130H Spectre gunships provided valuable fire support and armed reconnaissance. However, the AC-130 community also suffered the single greatest combat loss of coalition air forces with the shoot down of an AC-130H, call sign Spirit 03, by an Iraqi SA-7 Grail surface-to-air missile. All fourteen crew members aboard Spirit 03 were killed.
In December 1992, AFSOC special tactics and intelligence personnel supported Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. In late 1994, AFSOC units spearheaded Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, and in 1995 Operation Deliberate Force in the Balkans.
Operation Enduring Freedom
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon, Washington D.C., on 11 September 2001 pushed the United States special operations forces to the forefront of the war against terrorism. By the end of September 2001, AFSOC deployed forces to southwest Asia for Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan to help destroy the al Qaeda terrorist organization and remove the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. AFSOC airpower delivered special tactics forces to the battle ground and they in turn focused U.S. airpower and allowed Afghanistan's Northern Alliance ground forces to dispatch the Taliban and al Qaeda from Afghanistan. AFSOC personnel also deployed to the Philippines to help aid that country's efforts against terrorism.
US Air Force Special Operations had a long-term presence in the Philippines during Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
In March 2003, AFSOC again deployed forces to southwest Asia this time in support of what would become Operation Iraqi Freedom – the removal of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist government. The command's personnel and aircraft teamed with SOF and conventional forces to quickly bring down Saddam Hussein's government by May 2003. AFSOC forces continued to conduct operations in support of the new Iraqi government against insurgents and terrorists.
AFSOC has had eleven commanders since its inception in 1990.
|1975||Mayaguez incident, Cambodia|
|1975||Operation Eagle Pull, Cambodia|
|1975||Operation Frequent Wind, Vietnam|
|1976||Operation Fluid Drive, Lebanon|
|1980||Operation Eagle Claw, Iran|
|1981||Kidnapping of U.S. Army Brigadier General James Dozier, Italy|
|1981||Gulf of Sidra incident, Libya|
|1983||Operation Urgent Fury, Grenada|
|1983||Operation Big Pine, Honduras|
|1983–1985||Operation Bat, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos|
|1983–1988||Operation Bield Kirk, Operation Blue Flame, Operation Blinking Light, El Salvador|
|1984||Salvadorean President José Napoleón Duarte's daughter kidnapping, El Salvador|
|1985||TWA Flight 847 plane hijacking, Algeria/Lebanon|
|1985||Achille Lauro hijacking, Mediterranean Sea|
|1986||Operation El Dorado Canyon, Libya|
|1986||Pan Am Flight 73 plane hijacking, Pakistan|
|1987–1988||Operation Earnest Will, Operation Prime Chance, Persian Gulf|
|1988||Operation Golden Pheasant, Honduras|
|1989||Operation Safe Passage, Afghanistan|
|1989||Operation Poplar Tree, El Salvador|
|1989||1989 Philippine coup attempt, Philippines|
|1989||Operation Just Cause, Panama|
|1990||Operation Promote Liberty, Panama|
|1990||Civilian evacuation, Liberia|
|1990–1991||Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq|
|1991||Operation Eastern Exit, Somalia|
|1991–2003||Operation Provide Comfort I–III, Operation Northern Watch, Turkey, Iraq|
|1991||Operation Sea Angel, 1991 Bangladesh cyclone relief, Bangladesh|
|1991||Operation Fiery Vigil, Philippines|
|1991||Operation Desert Calm, Saudi Arabia|
|1991–2003||Operation Southern Watch, Kuwait|
|1992||Operation Silver Anvil, Sierra Leone|
|1992–1994||Operation Provide Promise I–II, Italy, Yugoslavia|
|1992–1993||Operation Restore Hope, Somalia|
|1993–1995||Operation Continue Hope I–III, Somalia|
|1993||Operation Deny Flight, Yugoslavia|
|1993||Operation Silver Hope, Ukraine|
|1994||Operation Restore Democracy, Operation Uphold Democracy, Haiti|
|1994||Operation Support Hope, Rwanda|
|1995||Operation United Shield, Somalia|
|1995–1996||Operation Deliberate Force, Operation Joint Endeavor, Operation Joint Guard, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bosnia|
|1996||Search and Rescue support for U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown CT-43 crash, Croatia|
|1996||Operation Assured Response, evacuation, Liberia|
|1996||Operation Guardian Retrieval, Uganda|
|1996||Operation Pacific Bridge, Palau|
|1996||Operation Guardian Assistance, Rwanda|
|1997||Operation Silver Wake, evacuation, Albania|
|1997||Operation Guardian Angel, Yugoslavia|
|1997||Operation Firm Response, evacuation, Republic of Congo|
|1997||Operation High Flight, Namibia|
|1998||Operation Desert Thunder, Persian Gulf|
Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center belonging to the 6th Special Operations Squadron
Air Force Assignment System
Air Force Mission Dictates Work Skills To Jobs
Air Force Assignments are governed by Air Force Instruction 36-2110, Assignments. Qualified people with the needed skills must be in the right job at the right time to meet the Air Force mission. At the same time, the Air Force has a responsibility to keep attuned to the demands placed on its members resulting from personnel tempo (PERSTEMPO). PERSTEMPO is a quality-of-life measurement that measures the amount of time an individual spends away from his or her home station for operational and training purposes, such as Temporary Duty (TDY) and designated dependent-restricted assignments.
Consequently, the Air Force classifies and assigns people worldwide as equitably as possible to ensure a high state of readiness. While the primary consideration in selecting personnel for reassignment is the member’s qualifications to accomplish the mission, the Air Force also considers the following additional factors:
- To the maximum extent possible, the Air Force will assign individuals on a voluntary basis and in the most equitable manner feasible.
- The Air Force equitably distributes involuntary assignments among similarly qualified personnel, factoring PERSTEMPO where practical to minimize family separation and to avoid creating a severe personal hardship on the member.
- Limitations on involuntary selection for Permament Change of Station (PCS), following some TDY, may be established to allow members to attend essential military and personal pre-PCS requirements, as well as to reduce individual and family turbulence.
Distribution of Personnel
Personnel are distributed to meet the overall needs of the Air Force as follows:
- According to law and DoD and Air Force directives and instructions.
- As equitably as possible between MAJCOMs within a specialty and grade.
- According to guidance from the Air Staff functional area offices of primary responsibility (OPR) (functional managers).
- As directed by the designated assignment authority as outlined in AFI 36-2110.
Assignment Policy and Procedures
Equal Opportunity. The Air Force assigns members without regard to color, race, religious preference (except chaplains), national origin, ethnic background, age, marital status (except military couples), spouse’s employment, education or volunteer service activities of spouse, or gender (except as provided for by statute or other policies).
Special Experience Identifier (SEI). The SEI system complements the assignment process and is used in conjunction with the grade, AFSC, AFSC prefixes and suffixes, etc., to match uniquely qualified individuals to special requirement jobs. SEIs may be used when specific experience or training is critical to the job and no other means is appropriate or available. The SEI system is also used to rapidly identify personnel to meet unique circumstances, contingency requirements, or other critical needs. Manpower positions are coded with an SEI to identify positions that require or provide unique experiences or qualifications. The personnel records for individuals who earn an SEI are similarly coded. An example of this would be a slot which requires a person who has training and experience on a specific type of mainframe computer.
To fill that specific assignment, the Air Force would look at personnel who had that specific special experience identifier in their military records. Note: While some assignments require special experience, the vast majority of Air Force enlisted assignment slots do not.
Security Access Requirement. Manpower positions often require members assigned to have access to a specified level of classified information. However, sometimes the urgency to fill a position does not allow selection of a member using PCS eligibility criteria and subsequent processing (and/or investigation for access) at the specified level. Under these circumstances, selection may be necessary from among members who currently have access or can be granted access immediately.
Grade, AFSC, and Skill-level Relationship for Assignment. CMSgts and CMSgt selects may be assigned in any AFSC or CEM code they possess or are qualified to be awarded.
Normally, airmen in the grade of SMSgt and below are selected for assignment in their Control AFSC (CAFSC). Airmen with an incompatible grade and CAFSC skill level because of retraining or reclassification are selected for assignment and allocated against requirements commensurate with their grade, regardless of their CAFSC skill level. Normally, airmen are selected based on their grade and skill level. CMSgts fill CEM code positions; SMSgts fill 9-skill level positions; MSgts and TSgts fill 7-skill level positions; SSgts and SrA fill 5-skill level positions; and A1Cs, Amn, and AB fill 3-skill level positions.
Volunteer Status and PCS Eligibility. Within a group of qualified members who meet the minimum eligibility criteria for PCS selection, volunteers are selected ahead of nonvolunteers.
Nonvolunteers qualified to fill a requirement who meet the minimum PCS eligibility criteria are selected ahead of qualified volunteers who do not. For example, time on station (TOS) is a PCS eligibility requirement. A qualified volunteer who meets the minimum TOS requirement is considered first in order of longest on station. Next, the qualified nonvolunteer who meets the TOS requirement in the order of longest on station and finally the qualified volunteer who does not meet the TOS requirement may be considered.
First-term Airmen (FTA). FTA serving an initial enlistment of 4 or more years may not be given more than two assignments in different locations following initial basic and skill training during their first 4 years of service, regardless of tour length. FTA who make two PCS moves are permitted an additional PCS in conjunction with an approved humanitarian reassignment, a join-spouse assignment, as a volunteer, or when the PCS is a mandatory move (such as returning from an OS tour at the end of the prescribed OS tour length). Low-cost moves are excluded from the two-move count (for example, an FTA being re-assigned to another base that is nearby).
Availability and Deferment. A member is considered available for reassignment on the first day of the availability month. The reasons for deferments vary. Deferments may be authorized when possible in most grades and AFSCs to maintain an equitable assignment system and also support the need for stability in certain organizations or functions.
Deferments are normally approved to preclude a member’s PCS while suitability to remain on active duty is evaluated or during a period of observation or rehabilitation. Deferments also exist for such things as completion of an educational program or degree, witness for a court-martial, accused in a court-martial, control roster, Article 15 punishment, base of preference (BOP) program, retraining, humanitarian reasons, etc.
Humanitarian and Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) Reassignment or Deferment. The policies and procedures concerning humanitarian and EFMP reassignment or deferment are outlined in AFI 36-2110. The following paragraphs briefly discuss these policies and procedures:
The humanitarian policy provides reassignment or deferment for Air Force members to assist them in resolving severe short-term problems involving a family member. The problem must be resolvable within a reasonable period of time (normally 12 months), the member's presence must be considered absolutely essential to resolve the problem, and the member must be able to be effectively utilized in his or her CAFSC. Family members under the humanitarian program are limited to spouse, children, parents, parents-in-law, and those persons who have served in loco parentis. A person in loco parentis refers to one who has exercised parental rights and responsibilities in place of a natural parent for a minimum of 5 years, before the members or the member's spouses 21st birthday or before the members entry on active duty, whichever is earlier. While brothers and sisters are not included in the definition of family member for humanitarian consideration, a request involving a brother's or sister's terminal illness will be considered as an exception to policy.
The EFMP is a separate and distinct program from humanitarian policy. This program is based on a member's need for special medical or educational care for a spouse or child that is required long term, possibly permanently. It is not a base-of-choice program as assignment decisions are based on manning needs of the Air Force at locations where a member's special medical or educational needs for a spouse or child can be met. Under the EFMP, a member may receive a reassignment if a need arises for specialized care that cannot be met where currently assigned. A deferment from an assignment may be provided for a newly identified condition if the member's presence is considered essential. The purpose of such a deferment is to allow the member time to establish a special medical treatment program or educational program for the exceptional family member.
When granted, the initial period of deferment is usually 12 months, after which a member may be reconsidered for PCS if otherwise eligible.
Base of Preference (BOP) (Enlisted Only). The FTA BOP program is a reenlistment incentive; the career airman BOP program is an incentive for other airmen to continue an Air Force career. FTA in conjunction with reenlistment or retraining may request a PCS CONUS to CONUS or PCS from OS to CONUS. FTA in the CONUS (only) may request a BOP to remain in place. A PCS BOP is not authorized from CONUS to OS or OS to OS. An in-place BOP is not authorized for airmen assigned OS. Career airmen may request a BOP to remain in place at a CONUS location.
Assignment of Military Couples (Join Spouse). Each member of a military couple serves in his or her own right. This means military couples must fulfill the obligations inherent to all Air Force members they are considered for assignments to fill valid manning requirements and must perform duties that require the skills in which they are trained. Provided these criteria are met, military couples may be considered for assignment where they can maintain a joint residence.
Permissive PCS Assignment Program. As outlined in AFI 36-2110, in very limited circumstances a member may ask for a voluntary PCS and agree to pay all expenses involved or associated with the PCS. Also, travel time is charged as ordinary leave. Members must meet all PCS eligibility criteria (for example, TOS, service retainability, etc.) for the type of move requested. The types of permissive PCS are CONUS assignment exchange and expanded permissive. Permissive PCS may not be granted based solely on the willingness of a member to move at his or her own expense.
Voluntary Stabilized Base Assignment Program (Enlisted Only). This program provides airmen a stabilized tour in exchange for volunteering for an assignment to a historically hard-to-fill location. The procedures on how to apply for the program and the list of current bases involved are listed in AFI 36-2110.
CONUS-isolated Assignment Program. Normal personnel support facilities (military or civilian) aren’t available at certain CONUS stations or within a reasonable distance.
This creates a degree of hardship for personnel assigned to these stations. To prevent involuntary assignment at these locations for long periods, the Air Force established a minimum 15-month tour for single and unaccompanied personnel and a minimum 24-month tour for accompanied personnel. Individuals assigned to a CONUS-isolated station may request reassignment upon completion of the tour.
Extended Long OS Tour (ELT) Length (Enlisted Only). The ELT volunteer program applies to airmen who volunteer for PCS OS to a long-tour location (one where the accompanied tour length is 24 months or more and the unaccompanied tour length is more than 15 months). Airmen who volunteer for an ELT agree to serve the standard tour length plus an additional 12 months. Tour lengths for various OS locations are listed in AFI 36-2110. ELT volunteers are considered ahead of standard OS tour volunteers according to the priorities shown in AFI 36-2110. The 12-month extended tour period is in addition to the normal (accompanied or unaccompanied) long-tour length the member must serve. A change in status affects the service retainability that must be obtained and the tour length the airman will be required to serve. The requirement for additional service retainability may require a member to extend or reenlist and could affect selective reenlistment bonus (SRB) calculation.
Educational Deferment. Airmen who have not yet been selected for a PCS may request deferment from assignment selection when they have nearly completed high school, vocational program, or college degree requirements. Requests for deferment are processed through the education office (which will confirm eligibility).
HQ AFPC approves deferments based on the needs of the Air Force; deferments may be waived. Airmen may be deferred up to 9 months to complete high school or up to 12 months to complete a college degree.
Educational Deferment. Airmen who have not yet been selected for a PCS may request deferment from assignment selection when they have nearly completed high school, vocational program, or college degree requirements. Requests for deferment are processed through the education office (which will confirm eligibility). HQ AFPC approves deferments based on the needs of the Air Force; deferments may be waived. Airmen may be deferred up to 9 months to complete high school or up to 12 months to complete a college degree.
TDY. AFI 36-2110 provides instructions regarding TDY procedures. The maximum TDY period at any one location in a 12-month period is 179 days unless the SECAF grants a waiver.
To the degree possible, airmen are not selected for involuntary OS PCS while performing certain kinds of TDY. Additionally, if selected for involuntary PCS after one of these TDYs, the report not later than date (RNLTD) will not be within 120 days of the TDY completion date.
Dependent Care and Adoption. All military members ensure arrangements are made for care of their dependents when they must be separated due to TDY or PCS (Family Care Plan). Military couples with dependents and single-member sponsors are expected to fulfill their military obligations on the same basis as other members. They are eligible for worldwide duty and all assignments for which they qualify.
To ensure all members remain available for worldwide duty, they must have workable plans to provide parent-like care for their dependents as outlined in AFI 36-2908. Members who cannot or will not meet military commitments due to family needs will be considered for discharge. Members adopting children are given a limited time to complete the official adoption process and facilitate bonding. Individuals may be authorized deferment during the 4-month period following the date a child is officially placed in the member’s home.
Time on Station (TOS) and Service Retainability
Minimum TOS requirements exist to provide continuity to a member’s unit and, to the degree possible, reasonable periods of stable family life for Air Force members. Further, upon selection for PCS, a member must have or be able to obtain certain minimum periods of obligated service depending on the type of PCS move. This committed service retainability ensures a member has a period of active duty remaining long enough to offset the costs associated with a PCS. It also provides continuity to the gaining unit and stability to members and their families following PCS. Some types of PCSs require TOS periods or obligated service periods more or less than the normal limits. Refer to AFI 36-2110 for the TOS and retainability requirements for specific types of PCS.
CONUS to CONUS. For most PCS moves within the CONUS, career airmen (those who have re-enlisted at least once) must have at least 36 months of TOS, and FTA must have at least 12 months of TOS.