Hello fellow IMA. My apologies to you. Life is not easy. In the civilian world, you work hard, play office politics and with a little luck you might get promoted. Not so in the reserves. Here your promotion depends heavily on your ability to decode a bunch of Air Force personnel jargon and to make a lot of non-cooperative admin types take care of someone who they really don’t see as their responsibility. I hope my story helps you out.
To start preparing for a recent board, I had to look up some basic information to answer the following:
- When is my board?
- How do I know if I’m eligible?
- When is my PRF due? When does it have to be signed and where does it need to be delivered to?
- How do I review (and potentially change my records)?
Before answering these questions I had to write my PRF. Why do IMAs write every word of their PRFs and OPRs? Because IMAs are always shafting their reserve boss because of the demands of our main job and the last thing we want to do is have someone go through the torture of the AF evaluation system when we’ve been so lame.
But nothing is easy — the only time I have to work this is while I’m flying from DC to Vegas and I’m on my Mac at 35 kft. I have a draft of last years PRF but it is in $xfdl$ format. My mac is not any mac, it is a government mac from my day job so I can’t install any software. Oh yes, this is totally doable, I’m an engineer. Bring it. So the XFDL is base64 zipped. To learn this, I connected to a free cloud based bash shell VPS (seriously cloud 9 IDE for the win) and cat the top of the xfdl and see:
so no probs here . . . because I’m on a shell with root I can use uudeview under linux to decode a xfdl into a zipped xml file and then extracted it to view in emacs. Happy to explain this in more detail if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for other questions, I recommend you call the total force service center at Comm 210-565-0102.
uudeview my_prf.xfdl mv UNKNOWN.001 my_prf.gz gunzip my_prf.gz cat my_prf
What do non-hacker IMAs do? Ok so I can parse XML easily enough to get the following from here.
The document to make sure you have in your hip pocket is AFI 36-2406 OFFICER AND ENLISTED EVALUATION SYSTEMS. It is probably the worst written document possible for quickly finding what you need, but it is the guide for how this is all supposed to work.
When is my board?
It provides this excellent summary table:
How do I know if I’m eligible?
The most helpful document was the ARPCM_16-02 CY16 USAFR Lt Col Convening Notice, which I dug around on MyPers to get. From this document I found out that I would need a date of rank for a Lieutenant Colonel Mandatory Participating Reserve (PR) board to be less than 30 Sep 10. I can see that my DOR is 29 APR 2010 and that fits in the window of the oldest and youngest members for the board:
DAILEY, MELISSA A./30 Sep 10 VANMETER, BRETT A./1 May 02
When is my PRF due? When does it have to be signed and where does it need to be delivered to?
From 36-2406, I know then that an eligible officer’s senior rater completes the PRF no earlier than 60 days prior to the CSB: which for me is Thursday, April 14, 2016.
From the table above, I see this confirmed that my senior rater (the USD(P)) has to sign the document between 14 Apr 16 and 29 Apr 16 and I get the completed document by 14 May 16. I can’t find how the PRF gets to the board, but I’m just going to bug the unit admin until I can confirm the document is in.
How do I review (and potentially change my records)?
Check your records on PRDA. So I was missing two OPRs and an MSM. Wow. The key here was working my network and finding the (amazing) admin at ARPC/DPT who had direct access to the records database and was able to update it for me before the board.