Insight to the assignment system

  • Published
  • By Col. Joseph Atkins
  • 8th Mission Support Group commander
I've been involved with the Air Force assignment system for more than 20 years and I want to share a few tips to help prepare you for your follow-on assignment after Kunsan Air Base or increase your chances for your dream assignments later in your career.

Follow these tips and your assignment experience will be more enjoyable.

1) Be proactive and check your SURF on the Assignment Management System (AMS) to see if you have enough time on your active-duty service commitment (ADSC) to serve your current assignment in Kunsan, and also check the date just in case your report no later than date (RNLTD) changes for your follow-on assignment. For example, if your RNLTD to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., has changed from Dec. 31, 2012, to Feb. 28. 2013, then you may need to contact the 8th Force Support Squadron Career Development Outbound Assignment Office in Bldg. 755 to change your service commitment for your follow-on assignment.

2) Update your assignment preferences or "dream sheet" upon arrival to Kunsan. Often Airmen will list Korea to be chosen for an assignment to Kunsan, but they forget to change their preferences after their boots hit the ground at Kunsan. If by chance your follow-on assignment is cancelled, then the Air Force Personnel Center may consider reassigning you to Osan Air Base or U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan as soon as your tour at Kunsan is complete because your assignment preferences haven't been updated. Another more common practice is that some people serve three or four years in Europe and return to Korea for another tour. That's because their assignment preferences still reflect Korea as their top choice. Make sure you take time to update your dream sheet to reflect your next desired location.

3) Some Airmen ask, "What are the chances of me being assigned to Wisconsin so that I can be closer to the Green Bay Packers?" My recommendation is that before you fill your assignment team's inbox with unique requests, check the AMS Enlisted Quarterly Assignments Listing (EQUAL) to find out what jobs are open. Enlisted personnel can view the EQUAL and EQUAL Plus listings to match their choices with the needs of the Air Force. Officers need to check the officer assignments requirements on the AMS webpage. For both enlisted and officers, AMS allows you to see what locations are open based on your Air Force specialty code, and provides a realistic view of what positions are projected vacancies. Enlisted and officers need to also make sure their respective performance reports and decorations are updated to ensure each person remains competitive for special-duty tours.

4) While serving a 12-month remote tour, make sure you monitor your suspense dates to avoid any changes to your date of estimated return from overseas (DEROS) month. If you don't have an assignment match within 120 days of your DEROS, make sure you contact the Career Development Outbound Assignments office.

5) If have any Personnel Reliability Program (PRP), Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), humanitarian or medical-evaluation issues, then please keep your Career Development Outbound assignment counselor informed to prevent delays from departing Kunsan.

6) As the wing commander explained during your initial newcomer's brief, "During a one-year remote, you have less time to recover from Uniformed Code of Military Justice actions, so I highly recommend we all do our best to stay far away from trouble". Disciplinary issues may impact your security clearance, promotion, PRP status, and reenlistment eligibility which may cancel your follow-on assignment.

7) Our squadron chief relayed a few great comments. "If you are military married to military, your records should be properly coded for "join spouse" or you may end up with assignments to opposite sides of the country. EQUAL and EQUAL Plus lists are good tools I didn't have when I was a young Airman - no, it wasn't stone tablets either, but it was close. You have the assignment system right at your fingertips. You can see what's coming available and align your preferences to Air Force needs. Still, it's not a guarantee you'll get exactly what you want, but it's better than not having any say at all. And regardless of where you end up, every assignment is what you make of it, good or bad."

8) Again, be proactive with your out-processing experience. Make sure you read Kunsan's permanent change of station (PCS) instructions when you are notified of your follow-on assignment. In addition, complete and turn in the required documents in a timely manner to meet your many suspense items.

Finally, the Military Personnel Data System (MilPDS) will be down during the month of December to upgrade the system Air Force-wide. To alleviate delays from obtaining your PCS orders, AFPC is approving orders earlier for those PCSing in the next few months. It is important to complete your required documents early to avoid delays in receiving your orders between now and February 2013.