Leaders announce policy changes for Airmen in AOR Published Jan. 21, 2008 By Staff Sgt. Monique Randolph Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs WASHINGTON -- Changes are on the horizon for Airmen serving in the Central Command area of responsibility. In an effort to standardize policies among those assigned and those deployed to the CENTCOM AOR, Air Force officials will implement several changes beginning as soon as February 2008. "There are several reasons for these changes," said Lt. Col. Scott Brady, chief of Air Force promotions and evaluations policy at the Pentagon. "We have Airmen on 365-day deployments and Airmen who are permanent party sitting side by side, for the same amount of time, but some policies affect them differently. So, in those policy areas where it made sense to make a change, and where we could make a change, we did." The first major change is that enlisted Airmen will no longer test for promotion in the AOR. Currently, permanent party Airmen, those who are in permanent-change-of-station status, test for promotion while those Airmen on 365-day deployments do not. Once implemented, the policy change will cease all Weighted Airman Promotion System testing in the AOR regardless of duty status. "(Testing Airmen in the AOR) reduces mission focus and increases our footprint because it requires secure testing facilities, test proctors and test control officers," Colonel Brady said. "We also had to consider that many Airmen have to travel to the test site, putting more Airmen on the road and in harm's way." Instead, eligible Airmen will test before deploying if the testing cycle is ongoing, and if they are deployed during the testing cycle, they will have 60 days to study upon their return to home station. If selected for promotion, they will receive back-pay and benefits based on their original date of rank, Colonel Brady said. Skills Knowledge test exemption policies will remain the same, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis, he said. Airmen on 365-day deployments in the AOR can also expect changes to physical fitness testing policies. Fitness testing has been prohibited for these Airmen while those permanently assigned are required to test if it is "safe and reasonable" to do so, said Colonel Brady. "We are going to remove that testing limitation for 365-day deployers, and leave the decision to the commanders on the ground," said Colonel Brady. "If it is safe and reasonable (to test), the commander can direct the fitness test." The final policy change includes not only Airmen on 365-day deployments, but those who are extended to 300 or more days after they've deployed. "Currently, Airmen who deploy on an approved 365-day indeterminate temporary duty assignment can apply for advance assignment consideration or a 24-month assignment deferment, but Airmen who are extended to 365 days can not," Colonel Brady said. "To make this policy more equitable, we're applying those benefits to Airmen who are extended to 300 days or more." Airmen who wish to apply for an advanced assignment or deferment will do so through their home station unit commanders upon returning from deployment. "The desires of the Airman will be heavily considered, but they must apply; the program is not automatic. Also, unit manning and the needs of the Air Force will still be deciding factors," said Colonel Brady.