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Legally speaking: what an administrative demotion means

By 502nd Air Base Wing Legal Office | 502nd Air Base Wing Legal Office | April 19, 2018

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —

An administrative demotion is a quality force management tool commanders have to help ensure a quality enlisted force.

Administrative demotions are intended to place airmen at a rank commensurate with their skill level and ability. They are not intended to be punitive, nor should they be used as a replacement for more appropriate action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Demotion and appellate authorities
Demotion Authority:
-- E-7 and below: Group commander (or equivalent level commander)
-- E-8 and E-9: MAJCOM/CC, FOA/CC, or DRU/CC (unless delegated to the CV, CS, MP, DP, or NAF/ CC). For Reserve members, AFRC/CC is the demotion authority for E-8 and E-9 although this may be delegated to NAF commanders.
Appellate Authority:
Next level commander above the demotion authority commander

Basis for a demotion includes:
-- Elimination from training
-- Failure to maintain or attain the appropriate skill/ grade level
-- Failure to fulfill non-commissioned officer (NCO) responsibilities, as defined in Air Force Instruction 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure.
-- Failure to keep fit
-- Failure to perform
-- Not participating in Reserve training, per AFI 36-2254, Vol. 1, Reserve Personnel Participation

The basis for the demotion must have occurred in the current enlistment unless the commander does not become aware of the facts and circumstances until the subsequent enlistment.  

In cases where demotion actions may be appropriate, members should be given the opportunity to overcome their deficiencies prior to the initiation of action. 

“Demotable” grades
-- E-2 may be demoted to E-1
-- E-3 may be demoted to E-2
-- E-4 through E-9 may be demoted to E-3; however, a demotion of three or more grades is only appropriate when no reasonable hope exists that the member will ever show the proficiency, leadership, or fitness that earned the initial promotion.

High Year Tenure (HYT) implications from administrative demotions:
Administrative demotions may trigger mandatory HYT separations from the service. When a member is demoted, the member assumes the HYT restrictions of that grade and will be separated within 120 days of the effective date of demotion.

(Source: 502nd Air Base Wing Legal Office)