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Air Force officers have alternate path to joint qualification

by Staff Sgt. Monique Randolph
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

9/20/2007 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The Air Force will adopt a more flexible process for officers to gain joint qualification beginning Oct. 1.

Previously, only officers who were assigned to a joint-duty assignment could become joint qualified, but this criteria will change as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007. 

The new joint qualification system will not replace the current joint-specialty system; it will supplement it.

"The way we conduct joint operations today is significantly different than 20 years ago," said Maj. Debra Lovette, the chief of joint officer management and classification at the Pentagon. "We have Airmen in the field who are accomplishing the joint mission and gaining joint experiences, and this new system allows us to capture that and give these officers the joint credit they deserve. We need to know what capabilities our Airmen are gaining from these experiences because we will need them in the future."

The new joint-qualification system is comprised of four levels, and each level includes a combination of factors based on joint education, experience and other criteria.

"Officers interested in becoming fully qualified can now gather joint-experience points through deployments, exercises and other education and training," said Jeffrey Gatcomb, the chief of assignments and joint officer management at the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. "The new process is flexible and dynamic, and tracks all joint experiences gained."

For example, under the current system, the only way to receive joint credit from a joint task force assignment is in a headquarters position, Major Lovette said. The new JQS allows credit to be given to officers conducting a joint mission at any level.

The JQS credits joint experiences using a point system that also takes the duration and intensity of the experiences into account.

"A person can gain joint experience in a more intense environment a little faster," Major Lovette said. "The JQS credits experiences in a combat zone with a higher point value than those gained in a steady-state environment."

Officers who were previously qualified as joint-specialty officers will automatically be designated as joint-qualified officers, and previously earned joint credit can convert to joint-qualification points. 

In addition, the traditional path to joint qualification through completion of a joint-duty assignment and joint professional military education II will remain in place.

Officers will be able to nominate their joint activities online beginning Oct. 1. The JQS includes a grandfather clause permitting retroactive point credit dating back to Sept. 11, 2001, for active-duty officers and Oct. 1, 1986, for Reserve officers.

When officers self nominate on the Web site, they will go through a series of questions to assist in determining whether their experiences qualify, and they will be required to submit source documentation, Major Lovette said. The nomination will go through either the Air Force Personnel Center or the Air Reserve Personnel Center, then to the joint staff for validation and credit.

"Obtaining and capturing these levels of joint qualification will allow us to credit our officers appropriately and ensure we meet combatant command requirements," Major Lovette said. "This will lead to enhanced mission impact in the joint environment."

For more information on the JQS, visit the Air Force Personnel Center Web page at, and click on the link for "New Joint Officer Management Program," or contact the assignments and joint officer management branch at (210) 565-3720 or 565-3718. E-mails can be sent to

(Steven VanWert, AFPC Public Affairs, contributed to this article) 

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