Are you ready to meet the board?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Eric Jaren
  • 95th Air Base Wing
Airmen assigned to Edwards Air Force Base who are selected to compete for below-the-zone promotions will be required to appear before a military selection board beginning September 2009.

In addition to evaluating their dress and appearance, the board will also evaluate Airmen's professionalism, verbal communication skills and knowledge of issues impacting the Air Force. I believe that appearing before the board will help revive a tradition that emphasizes military customs and courtesies.

The BTZ program is an early promotion opportunity restricted to Airmen who stand out from their peers and perform duties at a level above their current rank. This distinction cannot always be captured by merely reading 15 bullet statements, as we were restricted to under the current "records only" system.

Improving fairness was a primary reason for restoring face-to-face boards. The most common concern associated with this initiative has been whether or not deployed Airmen would receive a fair chance at BTZ. Many installations implemented "records only" boards following 9/11 because too many Airmen were unable to physically appear before the board due to high deployment tempos.

With the exception of a few AFSCs, this is not prevalent here. We will ensure that deployed Airmen are not adversely affected by their absence. Although our Airmen will predominately face the board in person, the board president will retain authority to conduct a records-only board when situations dictate the need.

In addition to bringing back face-to-face boards, next month's nomination packages will require three bullets indicating the progress of career development courses, upgrade training, or applicable training requirements. Airmen have spent their entire career in training, yet the packages failed to reflect any efforts in that very important area. For example, during one recent board, none of the packages contained any bullets on the status of training!

My main concern is Airmen appearing before the board unprepared. We as Senior Noncommissioned Officers have distinct responsibilities regarding their preparation. Supervisors -- your personal involvement in preparing the Airmen is critical to their success. Airmen -- it is the job of NCOs to give you the tools to succeed. If you don't have a military supervisor in your unit you need to seek assistance from another unit. Senior enlisted -- we must be active in our span of influence to ensure Airmen are engaged. 

Addressing that, we have revised EABI 36-2502, Team Edwards Senior Airman Below-the-Zone Promotion Program, and added a "how to" course to the NCO professional development seminar. We are also creating a military board video that demonstrates the entire board process step-by-step. Lastly, any Airman is free to request assistance from any SNCO to prepare.

Face-to-face boards will offer the advantage of meeting, interviewing, and hearing the perspective of our best and brightest before selecting an Airman for an early promotion. This is a much more valid measure than just reading 15 bullet statements. I can't wait to get started!