Chiefs’ Corner: The Little Brown Book. What’s the big deal?

by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Slacum
352 NWS Det 1 superintendent

Why do senior noncommissioned officers make such a big deal out of the Enlisted Force Structure (AFI 36-2618), more commonly referred to as the “Little Brown Book?”

I mean, come on, we all know what is expected of us, right? We have supervisors who lay out their expectations of us on our performance feedbacks, we have performance reports that illustrate how our performance measures up against our peers and we have endless CBTs to cover just about everything else. So why do SNCOs keep referencing the Little Brown Book?

The answer is simple. The Little Brown Book is the road map for enlisted professional development and advancement.

If you’re only concerned with the here and now, then focusing on your current rank or position is probably good enough for you. But, if you want to continue to learn and grow, then you must know what will be expected of you down the road so you can begin laying the foundation for your future growth and success now. The key to the future is outlined for you in the Little Brown Book.

Remember, your readiness for future advancement is determined by your past performance. If your performance only demonstrates that you can be good at your current level, but not at the next level, why would the Air Force want to advance you? On the other hand, if your past performance indicates you already possess the skills to succeed at the next level, then advancement to the next level is not only in your best interest but also in the best interest of the Air Force.

The Air Force evaluates each enlisted member on the “Whole-Person Concept.” We look at your duty performance, your significant self-improvement and your base/community involvement.

If you want to know what that means for you, the Little Brown Book has you covered.

While we expect you to excel at your current rank/position, we also want you taking the steps necessary to prepare yourself for future advancement.
So, if you are a staff sergeant and want to advance to technical sergeant then you must not only master the requirements for your current rank, but also begin stepping up your game so you can demonstrate your readiness to assume the next grade. The Little Brown Book will tell you what you need to do to demonstrate your readiness for advancement.

Why do SNCOs make such a big deal out of the Little Brown Book? Simple. We want you to advance. We want you to be prepared to replace us when we move on.  We want to ensure you, as future Air Force senior enlisted leaders, are prepared for the challenges you will face when you wear the chevrons of SNCO.
No matter what your current rank is, the Little Brown Book is your guide to success. What you do with it is completely up to you.