The Air Force just dropped one of its standard promotion test phases for its master sergeant, senior master sergeant and chief master sergeant ranks.
The service on Monday said it is removing its Weighted Airman Promotion System testing requirement, known as WAPS, for its senior noncommissioned officer promotion process, officials said in release.
The new structure is based on merit, not necessarily test scores.
"We trust this board process will continue to give senior leaders and commanders the greatest level of confidence that the right individuals are being selected for promotion to the top enlisted ranks," said Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright in a news release. "We found that removing the testing portion will eliminate any possibility that Airmen without the strongest leadership potential might test into promotion, while also ensuring that our strongest performers continue to earn the promotion they deserve."
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The new process will be similar to the officer promotion system, the service said. It will allow promotion boards to identify the "best qualified airmen to promote into the senior non-commissioned officer corps."
Under WAPS, airmen were required to take a promotion fitness exam as well as a specialty knowledge test; following that testing, airmen would move to a central evaluation board. An airman could earn a maximum of 100 points per test, according to the service.
Other elements of the scoring test will remain, including a review of the last five years of performance evaluations, awards and decorations. Decoration points, however, will no longer be scored independently, the release said.
"We continue to transform talent management across the force," said Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services.
"This adjustment focuses on performance being the driving factor we consider when selecting our senior NCOs. It also continues our work toward increasing transparency and making our processes simple."
Airmen considered for promotion to E-9 will be the first to see the changes this fall, the release said.