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CY01 Chief Master Sergeant Evaluation Board

Source: CMSgt, USAF
Superintendent, Military Personnel Flight
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I recently had the privilege to serve as a member of the CY01 CMSgt Evaluation Board. It was a great experience and I wish every Chief could be afforded the opportunity. These comments and observations are designed to provide insight into the evaluation board process. AGAIN, I must point out that the information is my opinion based on my personal observations and in no way represents an official Air Force or Board Secretariat position.

The attached Power Point slides outlines our briefing in its entirety. <Awaiting Conversion>

Our purpose was to review the records of senior master sergeants and align them in an order of merit by chief enlisted manager code, based on our evaluation of their relative potential for promotion to chief master sergeant. To accomplish these tasks, we used the whole-person concept to subjectively assess each SMSgts’ selection record – giving careful consideration to such factors as: Job Performance, Professional Competence, Leadership, Job Responsibility, Breath of Experience, Awards, Decorations, and Education.

Some NCOs considered were nearing their High Year of Tenure date or had an established Date of Separation/Retirement. It is Air Force policy, that a high year of tenure or a projected date of separation/retirement, by itself, is not sufficient justification for non-selection.

Our primary job while there was to ensure each individual received fair and equitable consideration and the best qualified NCOs were aligned in a relative order of merit. In determining who was best qualified for promotion to chief master sergeant, our focus throughout the entire process was leadership and managerial potential to serve as CMSgts.

The following are some specific observations:


- Individuals must ensure their records are current and accurate

- Individuals must check their DVR and check it again, then take corrective action on anything that’s inaccurate and follow-up to ensure the correction was accomplished

- Some records had simple things that should have been corrected before the board convened, this was not viewed favorably


- Ratings and comments were equally important

- Naturally anything less that an overall “5” was viewed negative. A person could overcome a “4” if it happened in some of the earlier EPRs and was followed by hard hitting evaluations in later years.

- Mark downs on the front were watched carefully, especially if in performance or leadership. SMSgts with mark downs in these areas sent clear signals that the intent is not for them to get a high board score

- Stratification is still very much a big player, but must be clear and not make the board read between the lines
-- Quantify! Quantify! Quantify! (% or #___ of how many and at what level)
-- Don’t make the board guess, do the math for them
-- Both % and hard numbers are good, but the record must validate the standing or its ranking is wasted (My #1 SMSgt in the wing,…but no awards)
-- Can stratify without using a numeral but really need to make it clear what you want the board to know (SR - without a doubt, the best SMSgt in this wing)
-- A good rating (stratification) from the SR is the bomb; however, being the group or squadron #1 beats not being anybody’s #1

- Senior Rater (SR) block is extremely important and carried the heaviest impact by far; however, rater’s comments were not overlooked and are definitely being considered, in fact, rater’s comments made the difference in some cases

- Don’t make the board work to find the meat in the report, make it visible; put the hard hitting stuff in the SR block, I often read reports from the bottom up

- No SR on top in the KISS-OF-DEATH
-- Don’t send mixed signals to the board “Definitely promote to CMSgt” without SR endorsement.

- Sometimes a Wing SR’s #1 got a slightly more-favorable nod that a HQ Directorate SR’s #1 because the wing person was chosen from more people; HQ Dir must do the math (#1 one of how many)

- No promotion statement on the top EPR sent a clear message to the board that the intent is not for this person to get a high board score – even with SR endorsement

- Job Descriptions – be descriptive and describe the level of responsibility, # of people supervised, amount of funds managed and accountable equipment – don’t get too creative with duty titles


- At the SMSgt level, MSM is the norm; if a member received a lesser decoration (AFCM/AFAM) for a PCS or Extended Tour, it was not viewed favorably

- Joint decorations were pretty much viewed (carried same weight) the same as AF decorations

- No decoration for a PCS move or long periods (3+ years) was viewed negative
-- Although understandable is some cases, not a good signal—makes the board wonder what’s the deal

- Decorations for Achievements should be full of meat to get subjective credit; otherwise it appeared someone got an achievement DEC simply for being in a certain place at a certain time


- Huge, huge player; naturally the higher the level the better

- Don’t consider any award too small to mention

- Some records had absolutely no awards – a work center or monthly award is better that no awards at all

- Cross-functional awards weighed much heavier (yearly/quarterly)
-- In several cases functional awards made the difference because individuals considered didn’t have cross-functional awards

- Local or non-Air Force awards need to be clearly explained in relevance of significance

- Consistency in winning awards contributed significantly to a strong record

- Don’t bury big awards – make it stand out, preferably in the SR block


- Not having a CCAF degree reflected extremely NEGATIVE; members must ensure this is updated if they’ve completed the course work

- Having a CCAF degree in related specialty was a plus; a CCAF degree outside related specialty was viewed on a case by-case-basis, but wasn’t necessarily viewed favorably

- Some retrainees failed to get a CCAF degree in new career field – wasn’t necessarily viewed favorably if member had enough time to make it happen (case-by-case)

- A higher degree was viewed favorably but didn’t give the member an enormous advantage in scoring; however, higher degrees far removed from specialty was not necessarily viewed favorably


- SNCOA completion was pretty much a non-player as everyone had it

- Awards were extremely heavy hitters – carried much weight; however that within itself will not get a high board score, need additional supporting cast to make a strong record

- If member won an award at the SNCOA, highlight it in the SR block and make it the big deal that it is

- Sister Services PME academies were viewed the same as our SNCOA


- Same base, same job for a long period is the kiss of death

- A person that decides to stay in one location must move around and show breath of experience – however don’t just change jobs but show increased responsibility as well

- Serving in staff positions for long periods of time without going back to base-level was not routinely viewed favorably, however the record was given a close look and accurate assessment of actual performance – simply serving in the position didn’t cut it


- Serving in a CMSgt position was good but the board needed to see some type of proven performance while in the position, otherwise it appeared the person was put in the position for this particular board; it was never viewed negative, but didn’t get the same credit without some evidence of proven performance

- Deployments are good but must show some type significant contribution for it to be meaningful to the board – don’t make the board search for it, accomplishments should stand out

- 1st Sgt and other additional duties helped the record only if the person did something in the position other than just carry the title – the board will only get what the report gives them – put it out there

- Best of the Best is good, real good

- One of the Best is bad, real bad

- It was important to be filling a 9-level position – if filling a lesser position ensure the job description clearly does the member justice, or it would appear the member is performing duties less than his/her qualifications (not a good thing when being considered for CMSgt)

- Don’t dictate to the board by trying to tell them how to do their job; didn’t help, didn’t
necessarily hurt, but definitely didn’t help…i.e.

-- Score this record a 10
-- Board score must be 450
-- I said it once and in case you didn’t hear me I’ll say it again, make him/her a chief this board

- Consistency is the key (winning awards, SR endorsements, decorations, new jobs, etc.)


Consideration for promotion to CMSgt is extremely competitive as it should be. My experience as a board members left me with a greater understanding of how the process works and even more confidence in the enlisted promotion system. The evaluation board process is as fair and equitable as it gets. I was highly impressed with the built in check and balance procedure known as a “split”. Overall I just hope this document meets its intended purpose of providing insight to the board process that will help NCOs take steps to increase their chances for promotion.


As a reminder, the information contained in this document is my opinion based on my personal observation as a board member. It does not reflect official Air Force or AFPC Selection Board Secretariat policy.

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Page Added on: 18 May 2006