Return of enlisted high year of tenure limits announced by officials

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON — Air Force manpower and personnel officials here announced Jan. 27 a return of enlisted high year of tenure limits to their pre-2003 levels.

“We’ve considered returning HYT limits to their normal levels for several years. Now that our Air Force end strength is stabilizing, it is an appropriate time to return back to the pre-2003 levels,” said Tom Voegtle, chief of the retirements and separations policy branch at the Pentagon.

High year of tenure is the maximum years of service a member may remain on active duty in relation to his or her enlisted grade.

The HYT for senior master sergeant, master sergeant, technical sergeant and senior airman will return to 26, 24, 22 and 10 years, respectively. The HYT limits for both chief master sergeant (30 years) and staff sergeant (20 years) will remain the same since they were not raised in 2003, Voegtle said.

The change will initially affect approximately 2,500 airmen; 500 senior airmen, 400 technical sergeants, 1,200 master sergeants and 400 senior master sergeants.

The new HYT effective date for master sergeant is April 1, 2011; for technical sergeant is Aug. 1, 2011; and, for senior airman is Sept. 1, 2011. The effective date for senior master sergeant is Jan. 1, 2012. This timeline provides airmen additional opportunities to compete for promotion or plan for separation or retirement from active duty.

All airmen who separate due to HYT will receive involuntary separation pay. Technical, master and senior master sergeants may apply for full retirement if leaving active duty due to reaching their HYT just as they would under existing policy.

While the new HYT is applicable now, airmen who will be “over” their HYT as the policy is normalized will be allowed to remain on active duty until no later than the effective date for their corresponding grades.

An airman’s total active federal military service date will determine whether he or she is under the old or new HYT limit. For example, a senior airman whose TAFMSD is Aug. 31, 2001, or earlier would separate under his or her original HYT date or Sept. 1, 2011, whichever comes first. If the senior airman’s TAFMSD date is after Aug. 31, 2001, that airman’s date would be adjusted to the new 10-year limit. In other words, the airman will now be required to separate at the 10-year point rather than the 12-year point if he or she is not promoted to staff sergeant.

Airmen overseas who will reach HYT before they are scheduled to return will receive new dates in accordance with the revised policy, Voegtle said. Also, deployed airmen and those soon to deploy who are affected by the policy change will return no later than 30 days prior to their new HYT date.

The new HYT requirements will not affect the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Airmen opting to transfer their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to family members will still be able to transfer these benefits even if their new HYT dates prevent them from completing the required active-duty service commitments.

Extensions of HYT are still applicable under existing guidelines. These include reasons such as extreme personal hardship or when an extension is clearly in the best interest of the Air Force, Voegtle said.

This change to policy will not affect Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard members.

The Air Force has a longstanding tradition of taking care of its people, and will continue this tradition through this process and beyond, Voegtle said.

“There will be no change in retirement or separation pay benefits, and the Air Force is committed to providing our airmen and their families with an open and transparent process,” he added.

Individuals who have questions regarding this policy change or any personnel issue can contact the 24/7 Total Force Service Center toll-free at 800-525-0102.