Academy to adopt 'all-in' classification process for rated careers

A 31st Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot prepares his jet for de-arming after landing at Graf Ignatievo Air Force Base, Bulgaria, April 17, 2012. Graf Ignatievo is now host to more than two dozen F-16s and more than 500 U.S. Airmen in support of Thracian Star 2012. Thracian Star is a month-long joint training exercise focused on building partnerships and increasing interoperability with the Bulgarian pilots, maintainers, joint terminal air controllers, firefighters and security forces airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katherine Windish)

A 31st Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot prepares his jet for de-arming after landing at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria, April 17, 2012. Starting this fall, the Air Force Academy will adjust its rated classification process, wherein cadets who volunteer to be considered for a pilot slot will also be considered for the other three rated jobs, based on their preferences and a Rated Order of Merit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Katherine Windish)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- How are rated officer accessions like the Musketeers? They'll both be "all for one and one for all" starting with the Air Force Academy's Class of 2015.

The Academy will adjust its rated classification process starting this fall to meet its targets for combat systems officers, air battle managers and remotely piloted aircraft pilots using an "all-in" process similar to one now in place in the Air Force ROTC program, said Laurie Carroll, the Academy's director of manpower and personnel. The Academy typically meets its goals for pilot accessions.

Classes through 2014 were selected for rated Air Force specialty codes based on their preferences and rank in the Board Order of Merit, or BOM. Cadets who weren't selected for their preferred rated AFSCs were held in waiting lists but could not be assigned to other rated AFSCs. That kept the Academy from meeting all its rated classification targets, Carroll said.

"Because the rated fields are all voluntary, if a cadet didn't volunteer for RPA pilot, CSO or ABM, they could not be involuntarily assigned to those AFSCs," she said.

Under the new process, a cadet who volunteers to be considered for a pilot position will also be considered for the other three rated jobs based on his preferences and a Rated Order of Merit, Carroll said.

"They cannot volunteer for just one. By volunteering for one, a cadet is in for all four," she said. "However, once cadets are matched to a rated AFSC, they will be given an opportunity to opt out if they don't desire that rated AFSC. If they do opt out, they will be classified into a non-rated AFSC with their classmates who selected non-rated preferences."

A1 personnel have not yet determined exactly how Rated Orders of Merit will be calculated, but the score will consider BOM, Air Force Officer Qualification Tests, Pilot Candidate Selection Method scores, calculated based on Test for Basic Aviation Skills scores, AFOQT scores and flying hours, said Lt. Col. Tad Vannaman, the A1 Directorate's chief of command assignments.

"The new process brings more focus on aptitude in helping us select the best candidates for rated jobs" Vannaman said.

The Air Force Academy accounts for a sizeable number of Air Force rated officer accessions, with roughly 500 Academy graduates entering rated fields each year, Carroll said.

"When both the Air Force Academy and ROTC can meet their targets earlier in Air Force Personnel Command's assignment process, it's better for Air Force planning and overall accessions," Carroll said.

Cadets can view their AFOQT and PCSM scores on the AFPC Secure website, available through the Air Force Portal. Cadets are first scheduled to take the AFOQT in the fall of their junior year but must schedule their own TBAS assessments and submit their own flying hours.