This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. Eastern on June 13 to include a comment from the Air Force.

Competition for promotion to technical sergeant eased in 2024, after the Air Force’s enlisted restructuring efforts drove the selection rate lower in recent years.

Just over 6,900 staff sergeants were selected to pick up the rank of technical sergeant, or E-6, out of more than 35,000 eligible airmen, the Air Force Personnel Center said.

That 19.5% selection rate marks a boost of 5 percentage points over 2023, when 14.5% of those eligible were chosen — marking the lowest technical sergeant promotion rate in nearly three decades. When asked what caused the spike in promotions, an Air Force spokesperson called the increase a “deliberate” decision that aligns with the service’s force management strategy and budget.

“These changes demonstrate our commitment to recognizing excellence and ensuring our force remains agile and responsive to emerging challenges,” the spokesperson said.

As noncommissioned officers, technical sergeants are expected to be experts in their fields and midlevel leaders within their units.

Those tapped to move up the ladder in the most recent cycle have spent nearly five years, on average, at their current grade, and around nine years and nine months in the Air Force. That’s slightly longer than the time in grade and service amassed by last year’s selectees, as the service has shrunk the number of available midlevel promotion slots in a bid to build more experience at each rank and grow the early-career enlisted corps.

The effort to reshape the Air Force’s top-heavy enlisted corps includes a plan to cut the cadre of technical sergeants to 15% of the enlisted force by fiscal year 2025, then move those billets to lower ranks. As of June 10, the Air Force had 39,981 active duty technical sergeants, the service said.

The service expects its workforce to remain flat in fiscal 2025.

The list of technical sergeant-selects can be found here.

Courtney Mabeus-Brown is the senior reporter at Air Force Times. She is an award-winning journalist who previously covered the military for Navy Times and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., where she first set foot on an aircraft carrier. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy and more.

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