Promotion Testing Extended for Thousands of Airmen After Paperwork Lost in the Mail

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Students take a test Dec. 12, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. (U.S. Air Force/Airman Azaria E. Foster)
Students take a test Dec. 12, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. (U.S. Air Force/Airman Azaria E. Foster)

Roughly 6,000 Air Force staff sergeants will get a little extra time to take their upcoming promotion tests following a snafu that led to 18 missing tests.

Airmen in 18 Air Force Specialty Codes who are up for promotion to technical sergeant will have until April 30 to complete their Specialty Knowledge Tests after a shipment of questionnaires never arrived, according to Maj. Gen. Andrew Toth, Air Force Personnel Center commander. The testing window runs between Feb. 15 and March 15, but the blunder will give those affected airmen roughly six extra weeks to take their tests, Toth said.

"We don't think anything nefarious happened," Toth said in a phone call Thursday. "So what we've elected to do here is now have those particular tests rewritten to ensure that we have the integrity in the promotion system across the board."

The 18 Air Force Specialty Codes affected are:

  • 3P071 Security Forces Craftsman (Includes A and B shreds)
  • 4A071 Health Services Management Craftsman
  • 4A171 Medical Materiel Craftsman
  • 4B071 Bioenvironmental Engineering Craftsman
  • 4C071 Mental Health Service Craftsman
  • 4E071 Public Health Craftsman
  • 4J072 Physical Medicine Craftsman
  • 4M071 Aerospace and Operational Physiology Craftsman
  • 4N071 Aerospace Medical Service Craftsman (Includes B and F shreds) **Includes 4N0X1, 4N0X1B & 4N0X1F
  • 4N071C Aerospace Medical Service (Independent Duty Medical Technician) Craftsman
  • 4P071 Pharmacy Craftsman
  • 4R071 Diagnostic Imaging Craftsman
  • 4T071 Medical Laboratory Craftsman
  • 4Y071 Dental Assistant Craftsman (Includes H shred)
  • 4Y072 Dental Laboratory Craftsman
  • 5R071 Religious Affairs Craftsman
  • 6C071 Contracting Craftsman
  • 7S071 Special Investigations Craftsman

The timed 90-minute tests are distributed across multiple bases around the world. The missing documents were in one envelope; eight others arrived safely at their destination. The location should have received 86 tests total, but came up short, he said.

Toth would not comment on which base was affected or what delivery service was used. An investigation has been launched into the incident.

Air Education and Training Command's Studies and Analysis Squadron is currently writing new tests, which "will take some time," Toth said. The Air Force Personnel Center will alert airmen if the change applies to them.

Officials stressed the overall promotion cycle would not be altered, and that the remaining airmen in the 20E6 promotion cycle should stick to the original timetable.

Roughly 33,000 airmen are eligible for testing during this promotion cycle.

The Specialty Knowledge Test is one of two tests airmen slated to become technical sergeants take. The other test is the Promotion Fitness Examination, or PFE. Not all airmen, however, need to take the SKT -- it is dependent on "their function and where they are in their careers," Toth said.

"It is just one part of the whole promotion process, but it's an important part of the promotion process, so we need to get this right," he said.

In July 2014, Air Force Personnel Command officials said the command had lost the answer sheets for 99 airmen at Pope Field, North Carolina.

The tests had already been taken, the majority of them by senior airmen testing for staff sergeant. The affected airmen ultimately had to retake the test.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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