Ramstein Airmen STEP up

by Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As enlisted Airmen, earning the next rank is highly competitive. Studying, boards, enlisted performance reports, awards, decorations and career development courses all play a part in the Weighted Airman Promotion System, which puts Airmen vying for limited promotions against their peers.

How else can Airmen put on that next stripe? Every year a select few between the ranks of senior airman and technical sergeant are selected through the Stripes for Exceptional Performers program.

“Being STEP promoted isn’t a sudden occurrence; it’s a full picture of an Air Force career,” said Master Sgt. Marius Francisco, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron combat readiness section chief. “You have to actively nominate someone who’s been constantly performing above their level.”

Photo10aRecently, three Airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing, one Airman from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing and one from U.S. Air Forces in Europe “tacked” on their next stripe through the STEP program.

But what exactly is the STEP program?

According to Air Force Instruction 36-2502, this program supplements existing Airmen promotion programs and is designed to accommodate unique circumstances that, in the commander’s judgment, clearly warrant promotion. It is intended to provide a means to promote Airmen for compelling, although perhaps not quantifiable, reasons.

Commanders then create a package explaining why they believe their Airman warrants such a promotion.

“STEP promotions are intended to promote deserving Airmen who have consistently proven that they are more than ready for the next rank and just haven’t been selected yet under WAPS,” said Chief Master Sgt. James Morris, 86th AW command chief. “This honor is not to be used to promote Airmen early or before they are ready for the responsibility of their next rank, nor should it be based off a single heroic act or specific achievement.

“We have so many quality Airmen here, but the few selected for STEP promotions were truly among the best,” the chief added. “I am very proud of what they have done for the Air Force and Team Ramstein. Congratulations, and keep up the good work.”

Airmen must also meet certain qualifications for STEP promotions. Senior airmen being promoted to staff sergeant must complete the Airmen Leadership School before being considered for STEP promotion and the resident NCO Academy before being considered for STEP promotion to master sergeant. A minimum of 12 months’ time in grade is required for STEP promotion to technical sergeant and master sergeant, while promotions to staff sergeant must have a minimum of six months TIG.

The following Team Ramstein members were selected for promotion through the STEP program:

Technical sergeant:
• Kyle Marshall (435th AGOW)
• Veronica Contreras (USAFE/A3)
• Megan Johnson (86th AW)
• Adam Fairbanks (86th AW)

Master sergeant:
• Timothy Ledford (86th AW)

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