Air Force ends program allowing some Airmen to choose their next duty station | Military.com

The Air Force’s “Basic Preference Program” will end next month, dealing a blow to career enlisted Airmen and their families who were trying to plan where they would be stationed in the United States.

On June 1, career airmen – those who have been there for at least four years – will no longer be able to apply for the program, known by its acronym BOP. Air Force spokeswoman Laurel Tingley said ending the initiative is, in part, a cost-cutting measure.

“We expect the Air Force to save approximately $8 million per year, allowing us to operate in the planned FY23. [Fiscal Year 2023] budget, Tingley said in an emailed statement.

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But officials also claimed the program did not work as expected.

In a leaked screenshot shared online of an April 26 memo – which officials have confirmed is authentic – Chief Staff Sgt. Claudia Carcamo, the Air Force’s chief director, said many Airmen don’t get their preferred duty station when they go through the program.

“The BOP program has historically matched less than 30% of applicants to the desired location,” Carcamo wrote.

About 4,500 career Airmen apply each year, according to Tingley. The primary duty stations requested were primarily in the southern United States.

MacDill Air Force Base, Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field in Florida, as well as Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina and Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, were the most requested facilities.

Will Grimsley, secretary of the South Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs, which also lobbies for military bases in the state, said the Air Force’s decision hurts skilled airmen trying to plan their life, some of which might choose the state as their location. retire after service.

“I don’t really know why they’re making this decision,” Grimsley told Military.com. “It’s not a guarantee. It can hurt retention, and it can also influence an Airman’s family. I don’t know why we would want to exclude anyone.”

The program will now only be available to brand new Airmen, who will be able to drop off their favorite bases after completing initial training.

In 2018, the Air Force expanded the basic program in preference to career Airmen. Prior to this, service members noted their preference base but did not necessarily know if there were vacancies or if their specialty code was in demand at a particular facility.

The expansion allowed Airmen to have more reasonable expectations when deciding where they would move their families and determining if they had a chance of transferring to a certain base in a preferred state while planning their careers.

The program will continue to accept applications until May 31. Tingley said there are other ways for Airmen to move to a preferred location.

Airmen can search for Equal Plus Advertisements, a portal that displays available jobs at certain bases, or by taking special development service – special jobs such as first sergeant, instructor or career assistance counselor.

— Thomas Novelly can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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