Air Force Mentor Logo


AFMentor | Bookmark | Search | Mail Page | Comment

CY00 Chief Master Sergeant Evaluation Board

Source: CMSgt, USAF
Chief, Airman Assignments
Shop at


I had the honor and privilege to serve as a panel member on the most recent CMSgt evaluation board. As I did following the SMSgt board in 1998, I wanted to share some thoughts and observations—hopefully this information will help everyone (to include raters and indorsers) better understand the evaluation process and ensure accomplishments and achievements are properly reflected on paper. One caveat—these observations are my opinion only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of other panel members. Additionally, my opinions do not necessarily reflect an official Air Force or Board Secretariat position. Finally, some of these comments are “repeat” items from my notes of two years ago. That should tell you something!

As expected, AFPC’s board secretariat did a super job supporting evaluation board members to include ensuring we had the tools necessary to properly assess and score each person’s record. I’ve never doubted the fairness of our evaluation board process and this board reinforced the confidence I have in our promotion system. The board president (a brigadier general) read all panel members a board charge from the Air Force Chief of Staff and we all took an oath to uphold that charge. At no time were we instructed to give special consideration (favorable or unfavorable) to fast burners, those with significant time in grade or service, etc., and we had no access to any weighted data (e.g., test results). We were given ample practice time on inactive records from a previous board and then on active records that we would see again later in the process. This allowed us to become comfortable with the process and gave us (as a panel) an opportunity to establish our benchmark as to what constituted an average record. We could then raise and lower scores depending on the content of each individual’s record. I believe we did a good job of ensuring we used the entire scoring range (6-10 in half point increments), although as a panel we were pretty tough evaluators. This trial run also helped us when we later encountered and resolved split votes. The training and trial run process lasted well into the afternoon of day 2 at which time we were very confident we could fairly and accurately assess and score each record.

Before getting into my particular observations from the board, I must restate my opinion about board scores in general. The score, in and of itself, is not as important as your relative standing in your career field. Of course, if you’re a selectee it’s usually a moot point. If you didn’t get selected please don’t get too hung up on your particular score. First, the eligible population changes each year. So does the board/panel makeup. Because of this your board score could go up or down from year to year. Also, a particular panel may score lower than another panel. What’s important is that the panel is consistent among the records they review. So if you’re the number 5 nonselect one year, your board score drops the next year, but you’ve moved up to a select or the number 2 nonselect, then your board score drop isn’t a significant thing—it’s all relative. Some of you who had high board scores when you made SMSgt may have experienced a score decrease when competing for Chief. As expected the competition for Chief is much tougher than for SMSgt because you’re competing against people who also made the cut for SMSgt—their records are going to be good. When looking at MSgt records (those competing for SMSgt) it was not uncommon to come across records that flat out weren’t competitive. Percentage-wise that made your chances of getting a high score much easier. Going to Chief is a different story—we just didn’t find many records that weren’t incredibly strong. This doesn’t mean your records aren’t/weren’t good, just that the competition is also good. One thing you can do to make you as competitive as possible is ensuring your records are correct!

I can’t overemphasize the importance of reviewing your records to ensure the data is current and correct. This is YOUR responsibility. You need to review the Senior NCO Fact Sheet that is available at Read and comply with these instructions and your records will be as correct as possible. If in doubt, contact AFPC and check what’s in your records. The number of records that had missing information or suspect data was amazing—why would someone not want to ensure their records aren’t correct? Check your records! One record was missing 3 decorations—and the person was stationed in the San Antonio area!

Contrary to myth, there were no time limits for reviewing a record. We had as much time as we needed to give each record it’s due. Some records took longer to review than other records. We did not have a daily quota and we were not ever rushed or pressured. However, you do yourself (and your people) a greater service when you set up EPRs in a manner that eliminates the board from having to search for meaningful facts. The below observations should help you when writing EPRs or reviewing records.

- Change the duty description when necessary. The same duty description each report may indicate a person is doing the same thing from report to report. Homesteading isn’t necessarily bad—jobsteading is. Seven EPRs in a row with the same title/description tells me a person has reached his/her career pinnacle. If you’re at one location for too long at least change jobs. Note: The fact a person is an active Top 3 member doesn’t belong in the duty description.

- Don’t game (make up) duty titles. The duty description must support the title. Be careful using First Sergeant as a duty title if the member isn’t an 8F000. You can mention additional duty first sergeant accomplishments on the back, but be careful of overusing the first sergeant angle. Also—stay away from using Senior Enlisted Advisor, Chief Enlisted Manager, etc. If in doubt, refer to AFI 36-2109.

- Identify supervision in duty description, level, how many supervised, etc. This is more important than you may think. I reviewed many records on people that (apparently) had served in one-deep positions and hadn’t supervised for many years. Hard to assess their capability to serve as a Chief when they haven’t had to lead people for 25% (or more) of their career.

- DAFSC skill level is not a make/break for promotion. The board understands that force structure changes have caused some people’s DAFSC to go from the 9-level to the 7-level. This continues to be a bad rumor that won’t go away. DAFSC is a product of the manpower document and doesn’t necessarily reflect a person’s responsibility level.

- Meaningful squadron/community involvement is important. It is a part of the whole person concept and can act as a discriminator for those records “bunched” together point-wise. A track record of involvement means much more than one incident. On the other hand, an EPR with nothing but community involvement makes an entirely different statement. Same with additional duties. I reviewed more than one record where the EPR comments had little to do with the duties described on the front. You get few points from being the wing social director.

- Awards still count! Especially if there is a consistent pattern of achievement. Quarterly/annual awards and distinguished graduate awards are another way for the board to discriminate the above average record from the average record. I did, however, notice an increasing number of award levels. For example, I noted more than one “Wing Staff SNCO of the Quarter.” Not positive, but last time I checked many wing staffs had a small number of SNCOs assigned. It helps if you quantify the award i.e., “Selected as Wing NCO of the Quarter out of XXX eligibles.”

- Don’t overstate your position. If you write that a person is the best in the Air Force the person should have won an Air Force level award to support the comment. If not, it’s a wasted comment because few of us are in a position to know who is “best in the AF.” A 2Lt stating “the best I’ve worked with” or “the best I’ve known” isn’t saying anything unless he/she is prior service in which case that needs to be mentioned i.e., “best I’ve known in my 16 years of service.”

- Quantify accomplishments and the impact on the mission. Use numbers when possible. Stating “my #1 SMSgt” is good, especially in the senior rater’s block, but it loses strength if not quantified. #1 of 50, #1 in the wing, #1 in my NAF carries much more weight. Stating “one of my best MSgts” tells the board absolutely nothing. It’s much better to be #2 or #3 of 50 than “one of my best.” Top 1 percent of 36 is 1—if you’re not prepared to say that, please don’t try to confuse the panel with percentages. It doesn’t work.

- Although not as prevalent as two years ago we still noted a few senior raters who had
multiple #1s. That’ll diminish a signature’s weight more than anything else will.

- Senior rater indorsements carry a lot of weight. If you don’t have one it definitely sends a message to the board. If you miss a senior rater it is difficult to get a competitive score.

- Don’t let your boss repeat an accomplishment from the rater or rater’s rater. Even worse, don’t repeat from a previous EPR. Save the best for last. Check your facts—in one EPR the reporting official indicated a person’s accomplishment saved 2 hours. The indorser stated it saved 3 hours. Well….

- Be careful trying to be “cute.” Not everyone understand sports terms so avoid statements such as “franchise player,” “first round draft pick,” etc. Also, save the Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman comments for your creative writing class. Also, be careful of using first names. Some raters acted like they were writing about their college roommate.

- Being a recent retrainee doesn’t hurt your chances of getting promoted. From my perspective, retrainees who excel in their new AFSC show potential to be great leaders. Same with special duties (recruiter, 1st Sgt, MTI,). People who serve one or more tours outside their primary AFSC show great depth and breadth of experience and show they have the ability to lead and manage regardless of specialty (and that’s what Chiefs are supposed to be able to do). Remember, depth and breadth of experience need not be gathered in an AFSCs stove-piped environment. Encourage your people to become better, more well-rounded NCOs/SNCOs by serving in these important duties. All else being equal, they’ll do well competing for Senior and Chief.

- If you mention a person enrolled in something, ensure you mention the individual
completed it. If you don’t, we can assume it was never completed.

- Use care when using abbreviations. The board may not understand the abbreviations.
Same thing with career field or location specific terms.

- Watch name or position dropping. Ultimately, everything we do is directed, sponsored, created by someone in a high leadership position. That doesn’t mean we need to state who directed every accomplishment.

- Many raters kept key accomplishments to themselves; then buried them in the body. Awards and accomplishments in the indorser’s block stand out to the panel members. Lukewarm indorsements don’t get someone promoted.

- The rank of the senior rater is not especially important. The fact he/she is the senior rater (and states something meaningful) is the key. This continues to be true despite rumors to the contrary. There are plenty of Pentagon workers who will attest to this.

- Get your CCAF degree!

Again, these are my own observations/opinions, but I hope you find the information useful. Our promotion process isn’t a secret--spread the word.

Click here to submit your information.
Send a Comment and/or Suggestion

Page Added on: 16 May 2006