Air Force Mentor Logo


AFMentor | Bookmark | Search | Mail Page | Comment

CY05 Central Senior Master Sergeant Evaluation Board Notes

Source: CMSgt, USAF
Squadron Superintendent
72d Test and Evaluation Squadron
Whiteman AFB, MO
Shop at

The below comments represent my own personal opinion, and doesn’t reflect, or is intended to represent the views of the AF, AFPC or other board members. Board members can never disclose the AFSCs they evaluated, scores given or any split resolution discussions.

Below is a link to the AF video covering the board process. Please watch the video, review the attached briefing given to members of the CY05 SMSgt Evaluation Board and read my board member comments contained is this document. It will help explain the evaluation board process and what I feel was important and can make you more competitive.

Are you competitive for promotion?

It’s important to understand the Air Force normally only promotes 6-10% of eligible MSgts in any given AFSC to SMSgt. The individuals evaluating your records are assigning each individual a score and determining if they are qualified for promotion.

By now most of you have seen at least one of these after the evaluation board observations papers/comments. I’m not going to list items that won’t make you competitive or highlight a number of poor EPR comments. My goal is to raise your awareness to take the necessary actions if you want to be competitive. You are in control of these actions. The individuals who meet or exceed these steps are competitive for promotion and received favorable board scores.

The first item I reviewed in each selection folder was a Senior NCO Evaluation Brief. It lists SNCOA completion, education level, and decorations (other information includes duty AFSC and duty title, date of rank, total active federal military service date, etc.). This one page document was the first impression I had about YOU and your record. If your CCAF and PME was completed, you were off to a positive start.


NOTE: This single page document does not list method of PME completion, date PME completed or year an educational degree was awarded.

The important thing is get your CCAF done early in your career. Sure there are always a very small percentage of folks who get promoted without a CCAF each year, but this number is declining. In the mid 1990s, almost 25% of the SMSgts in the AF didn’t have a CCAF. Today that number is about 9%. You can see the trend where board members are putting increased emphasis on having this completed. It’s a BIG positive to see a CCAF awarded. Any additional degrees are good as long as they are tied directly to your military area of expertise. If you cross train into another career field, make sure you work to get a CCAF awarded in your current specialty. This was a plus! Bottom line is getting your CCAF done in the career field you’re competing for promotion!

PME is even more critical. Within a few days of receiving a line number for MSgt, individuals should enroll in the SNCOA correspondence course and have the goal of having this done before sewing on MSgt. If you don’t have your PME done, your board score evaluation will be low and your odds of getting promoted are almost ZERO!

To be seen as competitive, get your CCAF and PME accomplished.


DECORATIONS: How many decoration points do you have? Has it been more than 3-years since your last extended tour decoration? If so, discuss this with your boss during feedback sessions! There’s nothing wrong with letting your reporting official/supervisor know it will soon be 3-years since your last extended tour decoration. Most of the decoration citations in the promotion folder were skimmed for content unless there was something special. Individuals with Outstanding Achievement, Bronze Star, Airmans Medal or a Purple Heart caught my eye and I read all of these fully. The norm was a MSM on top but this wasn’t a show stopper. There were numerous records where individuals had several extremely strong EPRs for several years and were eligible for a MSM, but didn’t have one submitted. Why? As senior enlisted leaders we are letting some of these troops down. Evaluate your troops and submit them for decorations.

Have decorations awarded when earned. This will keep board members focused on your competitive records and they won’t be left wondering why you didn’t get one.


EPRs: Senior Rater (SR) must sign your EPR. It doesn’t matter if they are very high-ranking military or civilian. Bottom-line is they must be the SR. If you are TIG eligible for SMSgt and receive a Deputy Rater, it will have a negative effect on your board score and will take time to recover. If you give one of your troops a Deputy Rater when they are TIG eligible, make sure there is a comment to tell the board why.

Example: Superb SNCO! Driving force behind Delta’s operation—promote to SMSgt when SNCOA is complete. This tells the board exactly why you didn’t get a SR endorsement.

One of the more significant bullets I observed were comments from a Chief, Colonel, CC or SR. It was rare to see someone make a comment that Johnny or Susie is the best they have seen in their 24 year AF career. Remember there are two Chiefs sitting on each panel. When this happened, I noticed!

Some board member comments in past years didn’t see these as important but I strongly disagree. That’s why from year to year board members view things differently. This can also happen between members on the same board. I strongly recommend using them when warranted and see them as extremely valuable.

When a Chief, CC, Colonel or SR commented MSgt Xyz was the best MSgt they have observed in 20+ years, it made a very strong impact!

Examples: Best SNCO I’ve seen in 24 yrs of service; remarkable leader who makes great things happen…promote this cycle!

Example: The absolute best MSgt I’ve worked with in my 22 year AF career; he’s overdue—promote him this board!

Do not confuse a strong bullet with a weak bullet.

Example: Best SNCO I’ve seen in 24 yrs of service - STRONG bullet

One of the best I’ve seen in 24 yrs of service - WEAK bullet

One of my finest SNCOs! Ready for more challenges! – VERY WEAK bullet

Don’t use the term Ready in your promotion recommendation for a superior performer. Ready for promotion equates to a 4 EPR rating.

Many records contained statements of stratification that were very impressive, but there was nothing to support these statements.

Example: “#2 of 398 wing SNCOs; true leader, mentor and role model for all ranks…promote without fail this board! There was no mention in the EPR of recognition, no remarkable duty accomplishments, etc. Stratification is good, but is needs to be supported with something concrete. When this happens, BIG+

Example: #3 of 104 Mx MSgts—wing’s Lieutenant general Leo Marquez Award winner 2003—promote to SMSgt ASAP!

Example: My #5 out of 184 SNCOs; drove LSET’s comment of “best MXG in last 10 inspections”, promote this board!

Example: #1 of 719 SNCOs--55 WG SNCO of the Quarter, Jan-Mar ‘04; superior AF leader, manager & mentor!

AWARDS: The higher the level of recognition the better, but even SNCO of the Quarter for a squadron or AMU/Flight SNCO of the Year was impressive, given how competitive the Air Force is today. It’s key to submit awards when earned. Make sure they are documented in the EPR regardless of level or type. The more well known career field specific awards (Lew Allen, Leo Marquez and Maint Pro) were good, but the Quarterly/Annual and Lance P. Sijan Leadership Awards carried more weight since competition for these was against all AFSCs. If the award is unique to a base or unit try and explain if possible without detracting from the accomplishment.

Favorable stratification coupled with an award caught my attention without fail.


BASE/COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Leadership, leadership, leadership! This is what the board is looking for in your EPRs. Helping cook hamburgers at a picnic is good but organizing and delivering this for a base-wide function is better. As SNCOs you should be out looking for ways to improve your leadership abilities. Key positions within your base/wing Top 3, Booster Clubs, AFSA, and NCOA are all excellent ways to get involved. Volunteer to lead committees, AFAF/CFC unit representative, accept nominations as an officer, and/or seek out areas you feel are important. Speak at FTAC, base events or MC award/promotion ceremonies. All of these will improve your leadership abilities and make you more competitive for promotion.


PME: Include selection for SNCOA in-residence and capture any awards. Specify whether individual was a primary or alternate candidate. This lets the board know this person is competitive and wants to be promoted since the candidates are selected based on a combination of their board score and supervisory exam score. I took a harder look at their records and being a select was important. I saw very few comments where someone was selected for in-residence SNCOA.

When they did, I noticed!

Also list SNCOA correspondence completion before sewing on MSgt. If you received academic excellence for the course, make sure it’s highlighted in your EPR. Anything you can do to separate your records from the masses is what you want.


PECD: If you don’t know what this is, your career has probably suffered. The Promotion Eligibility Cutoff Date (PECD) for promotion to SMSgt is 30 Sep. You should talk with your reporting official/supervisor about making sure your EPR closes out as close to this date as possible. Many records had EPRs closing out in Oct or Nov. Why is this important? Because the board wants the latest information about you. If your EPR is due in Oct, the EPR we reviewed was dated Oct 03. The board met in Jan-Feb 05 so the information was almost 15 months old. Align your MSgt EPR close out dates as close to the PECD whenever possible.


What about doing an EPR early to highlight accomplishments?

Do it! A Change of Reporting Official (CRO) EPR sends the board a positive message this is someone you are trying to get promoted, especially if it captures a special award, PME achievement or significant accomplishments. Taking these extra administrative steps will ensure the board has the latest information on YOU!


Chief’s Perspective: As mentioned earlier only 7-10% of eligible MSgts will be promoted to SMSgt. Your unit/base leadership can do a number of things (submit decorations, awards, recommend stratification, leadership opportunities, etc) to help you receive a strong board score. The one thing they can’t do is take your promotion exam. You must dedicate the proper amount of time to prepare and study for this examination. Doing anything less than your best, is letting down the senior leaders working hard to get you promoted.

When possible, highlight accomplishments under your control. When Distinguished Visitors (DVs) are in your unit or your base is undergoing a HHQ inspection, don’t be afraid to highlight your accomplishments and show-off your troops.

Please take the time to view the AF video, review the board PowerPoint presentation and reflect on the comments I’ve highlighted. Each person can make the necessary changes in their professional life to be more competitive. It takes a lot of hard work, strong unit leadership and focused/dedicated subordinates to help you reach the top tiers of the enlisted force. Always remember to take care of your troops and you’ll be successful in your AF career. Without their dedication to the mission, your achievements and promotions wouldn’t be possible.

Click here to submit your information.
Send me Comments and Suggestions

Page Added on: 14 October 2005