Officer Promotion Timing

One of the random things which didn't make very much sense to me both prior to commissioning and during the process was how the officer promotion system works.  I have been around the enlisted system for years so understanding acronyms like 'WAPS' is second nature to me, but the officer side is more cryptic.  There are a few different reasons for this.  First and foremost, officers don't like to talk about promotions.  One of the worst things you can be tagged as if you are an officer is being a 'careerist.'  The perception is that a careerist officer only does things to benefit his or her own career, commonly at the expense of others.  While this may or may not be true, once you are tagged with this perception it can be hard to disassociate yourself with it.  And as you will probably hear time and time again, perception is everything.  Secondly, due to the competitive nature of the officer corps it seems like officers are generally expected to figure out a lot of this stuff on their own.  This is one of the sometimes brutal facts about the officer corps.  In order to succeed you will need to know how to find the sources to the information you will need, and use them to your benefit.  The last thing you want is to find a board was pushed forward and a decoration wasn't included in your board package because you were lazy and didn't update it.

In the interest of a disclaimer, I am just a Second Lieutenant so keep that in mind as you browse this information.  I am not an expert on anything I am writing about, this is simply an explanation of what I have picked up so far.  I tried to reference the AFI but I decided I was not in the mood to dive deep, so I will keep this simple.  Perhaps someday I would do another post with supporting documentation from the AFI.

For the non-priors, here are the Air Force officer ranks (at the bottom):

Image source:
One of the things one of my mentors told me was on the officer side you only have one shot at making rank.  If you do something stupid and don't promote to 1st Lt on time, you will probably never promote to 1st Lt.  If you are passed over for Lt Col the first time, they say you will probably not make it the other times even though technically you can.  I am not sure how valid this perspective is, but it makes sense to me.

Here is my understanding for how you make rank as a 13S (non-rated) Space Operations Officer.
Here is a summary for the fastest burning career:
Board Timing
One last note since I am on the topic of ranks.  One thing which I always notice is when people use the wrong abbreviations for ranks.  Every branch of service does it differently so you have to pay attention and do it right.  Additionally, a lot of Air Force officers I know incorrectly abbreviate their own rank.  The "Tongue and Quill" available on the Air Force E-Publishing site outlines the proper abbreviations for all ranks.  Here is the applicable page taken out of the 27 May 16 (Interim Change 19 Nov 15) edition:

Labels: , ,