Posted : Thursday Jan 28, 2010 6:21:18 EST The Air Force announced Tuesday that it will return enlisted high year of tenure limits to pre-2003 levels. The move will reduce the amount of time enlisted members may remain on active duty, which means about 2,500 airmen could be forced to leave the Air Force sooner than they had planned. High year of tenure is the maximum years of service a member can remain on active duty in relation to his or her enlisted grade. With this change, the high year of tenure is now 26 years for senior master sergeant, 24 for master sergeant, 22 for technical sergeant and 10 for senior airman. The limits remain 30 years for chief master sergeant and 20 years for staff sergeant because those limits were not raised in 2003. “We’ve considered returning [high year tenure] limits to their normal levels for several years,” said Tom Voegtle, chief of the retirements and separations policy branch at the Pentagon. “Now that our Air Force end-strength is stabilizing, it is an appropriate time to return back to the pre-2003 levels.” This change in policy initially will affect about 500 senior airmen, 400 technical sergeants, 1,200 master sergeants and 400 senior master sergeants. The new high year of tenure effective date is April 1, 2011, for master sergeants; Aug. 1, 2011, for technical sergeants; and Sept. 1, 2011, for senior airmen. The effective date for senior master sergeant is Jan. 1, 2012. This timeline is designed to give airmen additional opportunities to compete for promotion or plan for separation or retirement from active duty. All airmen who separate because of high year of tenure will receive involuntary separation pay. Technical, master and senior master sergeants may apply for full retirement if they are leaving active duty because they have reached their high year of tenure, just as they would have under existing policy. In addition, affected airmen can apply for high year of tenure extensions, which may be granted for reasons such as extreme personal hardship or if an extension is in the best interest of the Air Force. For information, contact the Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102 or visit www.afpc.randolph.af.mil.