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ARLINGTON, Va. — This year, roughly 3,000 enlisted airmen are eligible to extend their Air Force careers by two years thanks to changes made to the high year of tenure limits.

The changes, which went into effect Wednesday, mean that senior airmen, technical sergeants, master sergeants and senior master sergeants have had their career limits raised to 12, 24, 26 and 28 years, respectively, according to Air Force Personnel Center spokesman Maj. John Thomas.

“We did this to help retain enlisted personnel with skills and experiences and to give people a chance to service for a couple more years, if that’s what they want to do,” he said.

And, of course, the change could mean more than two years of extended service: Each person extending would then have more opportunities for promotion.

The limits remain unchanged for staff sergeants and chief master sergeants, at 20 and 30 years, respectively, he said.

However, airmen who already have spent government funds to separate from the service, such as shipping belongings or moving families, are not eligible to extend their stay, even if they were unaware of the upcoming policy change and wished to stay on active duty, Thomas said.

“While this has been in the works for a while, we never would have told anyone not to proceed [with the separation process] based on a possibility,” he said.

Each of the services monitor tenure limits and adjust them according to their readiness needs, end-strength limits and recruiting and retention successes or failures, service officials said.

The Army last tweaked their policy in 2000, which they call retention control points, and made changes here and there in 1992, 1993 and 1997. No changes are planned for 2003, and the policy will be revisited in 2004, said Lt. Col. Franklin Childress, spokesmen for the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel.

The Navy last made changes in July, and reduced by two years the limits on E-4 and E-6 pay grades, from 12 years to 10 years, and 22 years to 20 years, respectively.

Navy leaders are reshaping the force and capping certain levels where ranks became stagnant and where retention goals had been met, a Navy official said in July.

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