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Positive changes to EPR, WAPS

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Samuel Couch
  • 90th Missile Wing command chief
Our current Weighted Airman Promotion System originated in 1970. Prior to that, local promotion boards were held without regard to Air Force specialty. The process was very similar to quarterly or senior airman below-the-zone boards.

There was much subjectivity to the process, which resulted in many complaints. As a result, the WAPS was created to provide a fair and equitable system for Airmen to compete for promotion across the Air Force within their specialty.

While our current system has drastically improved promotion opportunity for all Airmen, it still has room for improvement and is in need of a course correction to meet the current and changing needs of the Air Force.

The Enlisted Performance Report as we know it was established in the late 1980s. The Enlisted Performance Report was supposed to be the fix to the over inflated Airman Performance Report.

However, it didn't take long for the ratings to start creeping back up until getting a five rating was no longer the exception, but the normal rating. This makes it extremely difficult to determine the truly exceptional performers who are ready for immediate promotion to the next higher grade.

Former Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Binnicker once stated, "I think it [the EPR] should be as dynamic as our Air Force is--ever-changing, always looking at it from the standpoint of, does it fit what we're doing today?"

Over the next 18 months, our Air Force will get one of the biggest overhauls of the Enlisted Evaluation System and the Weighted Airman Promotion System since the inception of both.

Some of these changes include the Airmen Comprehensive Assessment; changes to forms AF 910, AF 911, and the addition of the AF 912 for chief master sergeants; static Enlisted Performance Report closeout dates and elimination of change of reporting official reports; forced rating distribution; master sergeant promotion boards; changes to the composition and calculation of WAPS; and changes to the stratification and senior rater endorsement for senior noncommissioned officers.

While these can all be emotional topics, each will help us move toward a promotion system based on job performance and not longevity. The changes and guidance to the Enlisted Evaluation System will provide supervisors and commanders the opportunity to give ratings based on job performance that will have a more significant impact on promotion.

The first of the changes is the Airman Comprehensive Assessment. The new worksheet is a tool that will generate better conversation between the supervisors and subordinates in the areas of responsibility, accountability, Air Force culture, the Airman's critical role in support of the mission, individual readiness, performance, leadership/followership and the whole Airman concept.

The worksheet introduces terms such as majority of Airmen, some Airmen, few Airmen and very few Airmen. It is critical that supervisors provide expectations and feedback to challenge their Airmen to a higher level of performance.

Open and honest communication early in the process will help Airmen meet expectations and prepare them for their Enlisted Performance Report.

Additional changes that have already been released include the elimination of the change of reporting official evaluations and implementation of static closeout dates for technical sergeants as well as changes to the Promotion Eligibility Cutoff Date for technical sergeants and staff sergeants competing for the next higher grade.

Many other changes to the Enlisted Evaluation System and Weighted Airman Promotion System will be implemented incrementally over the next 18 months. Collectively these changes will have a positive impact on career progression through the enlisted ranks by ensuring that we are promoting the right person at the right time in their career.