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Air Force Enlisted Promotion System

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Time-in-Grade (TIG) - Air Force members are awarded one-half of a point for each month they have time-in-grade. Maximum number of TIG points is 60. Time-in-Service (TIS) - Members are awarded two points for each year they have in the military. Maximum number of TIS points is 40.

Awards and Decorations - Just like the Army, Air Force members receive promotion points if awarded certain military decorations (medals):

  • Medal of Honor - 15
  • Air Force/Navy Distinguished Cross - 11
  • Defense Distinguished Service Medal - 9
  • Distinguished Service Medal - 9
  • Silver Star - 9
  • Legion of Merit - 7
  • Defense Superior Service Medal - 7
  • Distinguished Flying Cross - 7
  • Airman’s/Soldier’s/Navy-Marine Corps/Coast Guard/Bronze Star/Defense Meritorious Service Medals/Meritorious Service Medal - 5
  • Purple Heart - 5 Air/Aerial Achievement - 3
  • Air Force/Army/Navy/Joint Services/Coast Guard Commendation Medal - 3
  • Air Force Recruiting Ribbon - 2
  • Air Force/Navy/Coast Guard/Joint Services Achievement Medal - 1

The maximum number of decoration points is 25.

Enlisted Performance Reports (EPRs) - At least once per year, enlisted members are rated by their supervisors (and the supervisor's supervisor) concerning their duty performance, behavior, appearance, motivation, leadership abilities, communicative abilities, and conduct. Part of this rating includes a promotion recommendation from one to five (with one the lowest, and five the highest). Each report must then be reviewed/approved by the squadron commander. The WAPS system converts these ratings to promotion points. Only ratings for the previous five years are used, not to exceed ten reports. Additionally, the older a report is, the less it counts in determining EPR promotion points. The maximum number of promotion points for EPRs is 135.

Promotion Selection

Once the Air Force has decides (overall) what percentage needs to be promoted, it applies those percentages to each AFSC (job). The WAPS points for each eligible person in that job are totaled, and those with the most WAPS points are selected for promotion.

For example, if the overall promotion rate to E-6 is 30 percent, then the top 30 percent with the highest total WAPS points in AFSC XYZ will be selected for promotion. The person selected with the lowest score, determines the "cut-off" score for that AFSC, and the Air Force will announce that everyone in that AFSC with a cut-off score of that, and above will be promoted (of course, selectees are individually notified by their commanders and first sergeants, as well).

Promotion Line Numbers

The "Promotion Cycle" runs for 12 months. That means, those selected for promotion are promoted, in increments for one year following. Not everyone is promoted during the same month. That's where "line numbers" comes in. The Air Force assigns promotion line numbers based upon time-in-grade, regardless of AFSC (job). So, the person (Air Force wide), selected for promotion with the most time-in-grade, would receive a line number of 001, the person with the next most time-in-grade a line number of 002, and so forth. The Air Force then (for the next 12 months) announces which line numbers will sew their stripes on the following month.

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