Airmen on Year-Long Deployments Can Now Get a Head Start on Next Military Move

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Wing walk to waiting family members and friends after stepping off of a C-130J Super Hercules at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 17, 2018 (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)
U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Wing walk to waiting family members and friends after stepping off of a C-130J Super Hercules at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Sept. 17, 2018 (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter)

Airmen who have been assigned a 365-day extended deployment but have follow-on orders for a permanent change of station now have the option to move their goods and dependents to the future PCS location before they deploy.

As of Nov. 1, active-duty airmen can apply to receive an advance assignment, meaning they will have the option to move early to their next assignment location, the Air Force announced last week.

"This change recognizes the need for us to increase stability and predictability for our airmen and their families and helps our airmen focus on their mission while deployed," Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said in a release. "The ability to receive an assignment prior to departing for an extended deployment allows airmen to make decisions that are good for them and their families."

Roughly 400 airmen are selected for 365-day extended deployments on an annual basis. The 365-day rotation often includes places like the the Combined Air Operations Center, or the CAOC, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

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The new advanced assignment policy does not apply to airmen who are conducting remote, year-long deployments to places such as Latin America or even air bases like Kunsan in South Korea.

The 365-day deployment schedule normally affects those who are deploying for a combat contingency, such as the CAOC.

Last year, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein ordered a review assessing how many assignments could be eliminated or reduced at the CAOC and brought back to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, where Air Forces Central Command is headquartered, according to a report from Air Force Times. Nearly 125 billets in areas of logistics and communication were moved back to the continental U.S. as a result, a 20 percent reduction, Air Force Times reported.

It's in part why the number of airmen who deploy for the 365-day rotation is limited, an Air Force spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Airmen on extended deployments were previously "required to be deployed for at least 60 days before being notified about potential assignments, and orders were not published earlier than 120 days prior to the new reporting date," the release said.

The elapsed time would make It would make it difficult for airmen and their families to plan ahead, the service said.

The change also gives airmen the option to request a move from their deployed location "directly to their new assignment without having to return to their currently assigned unit first," the release said.

Like the CAOC billets reduction, the advanced assignment policy is in line with the service's efforts to streamline duties and retain more airmen.

Airmen interested in the option may apply to receive an advance follow-on assignment up to 16 months prior to the projected 'Report Not Later Than Date' of the current assignment, the release said.

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

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