USAF Makes “Indefinite Enlistment” Official for NCOs

SSgt. Kevin Fancher and MSgt. Michael Ente say the oath of enlistment during thier reenlistment ceremony performed by Air Force Thunderbird #9, Lt. Col. Noel Colls. The ceremony was performed at Sheppard AFB, Texas, on Oct. 25, 2019. Air Force photo by SrA. Robert McIlrath.

Airmen who have served for 12 years or more no longer have to re-enlist under a change made official Oct. 30.

Previously, senior enlisted airmen were required to re-enlist every four years, a process described as lengthy and full of cumbersome paperwork that culminated in raising their right hand at a swearing-in ceremony.

Now, under a new Noncommissioned Officer Career Status Program, that requirement is gone. Instead, an Oct. 30 Air Force release said, their separation dates will align with their high year of tenure date—when they must separate or retire.

Effective Nov. 18, airmen with at least 12 years of service who sign a re-enlistment contract will fall under the program, and it will be the last contract of their career. There will no longer be a date of separation on their records until they hit one year until their mandatory separation or retirement date. When promoted, the date of separation will automatically be updated, the release stated.

Current high year of tenure lengths are:

  • 20 years for staff sergeants,
  • 22 years for technical sergeants,
  • 24 years for master sergeants,
  • 26 years for senior master sergeants, and
  • 30 years for chief master sergeants.

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright previewed the change in an interview with Air Force Magazine over the summer. It was publicly in the works, first looking at setting the re-enlistment cutoff at 15 years of service. Wright said airmen who have already served that long in uniform have proven their service, rendering re-enlistment processes unnecessary.

The Army already has the same process in place for soldiers with 12 years of service.