ARLINGTON, Va. — The Air Force has changed its policy regarding frocking, the term used when an officer is selected for promotion, assumes the responsibilities and wears the insignia, but is not yet being paid at the higher rank’s salary.

According to the new policy, instead of the Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, any frocking to major and lieutenant colonel must be approved by the Air Force Personnel Center commander, while frocking to colonel and above must be approved by the Air Force’s Senior Leadership Management Office.

Moreover, officers already assigned to a permanent job and serving at their lower grade, or who are moving to another position within the same organization, do not have sufficient justification to get frocked, according to the new guidance.

“When an officer has already proven [himself or herself] and is known at a particular rank in an organization, frocking the officer to the higher grade would appear to be more a matter of convenience than enhancing his effectiveness in the job,” Lt. Col. Jim Howard, chief of the officer promotions, appointments and selective continuation branch at Randolph Air Force Base, said in a news release.

Deployments and temporary duty assignments are also instances where frocking is not authorized, Air Force officials said.

All services practice frocking, but only the Air Force does not frock enlisted members.

And even for Air Force officers, “frocking is not common,” according to Staff Sgt. Matt Miller, a spokesman for the Air Force’s Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

The 1996 National Defense Authorization Act allows for up to 1 percent of majors and lieutenant colonels to be frocked, which for fiscal 2003 would have meant 139 majors and 94 lieutenant colonels in the Air Force.

But only one Air Force officer was frocked to lieutenant colonel out of seven requests, and there were no officers frocked to major out of three requests received, Personnel Center statistics.

Nevertheless, the new Air Force policy was developed because it “clarifies policy and helps us be more responsive to commanders in the field,” Howard said.

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