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Airman basic

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Title: Airman basic  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: United States Air Force enlisted rank insignia, AB, User USAFe1, Beginners and newcomers, US enlisted ranks
Collection: Beginners and Newcomers, Enlisted Ranks of the United States Air Force
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Airman basic

Airmen basic march in column formation as part of their graduation ceremony at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
In October 2000, airmen basic stand in formation, awaiting graduation. An airman basic wears no rank insignia.

Airman basic (AB) is the lowest enlisted rank in the United States Air Force (USAF), immediately below airman. The pay grade for airman basic is E-1.[1]

As opposed to all other USAF enlisted and officer ranks, airman basic has no rank insignia affiliated.[1][2] The lack of uniform insignia for airmen basic is the reason for the nickname "slick-sleeve"; all other enlisted Air Force ranks wear stripes and chevrons on their uniform sleeves.[3]

In accordance with Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, the term of address for an airman basic is "Airman Basic" or "Airman".[4]


  • History 1
  • Promotion from airman basic 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


When the U.S. Air Force was split from the U.S. Army on July 26, 1947, it inherited the U.S. Army's enlisted ranks; the lowest U.S. Air Force enlisted rank became private (falling immediately below private, E-2), which wore no rank insignia.[5]

In March 1952, the Air Council and United States Air Force Chief of Staff General Hoyt Vandenberg adopted a number of changes to the U.S. Air Force enlisted rank structure that had been recommended by studies made in 1950 and 1951. On April 24, 1952, Air Force Regulation 39-36 was published, changing the name of the lowest enlisted U.S. Air Force rank to basic airman—whose holders still bore no insignia—immediately below the new airman third class.[5]

On February 5, 1959, the new Air Force regulation governing the titles of enlisted ranks was released; the only change being direction that the title for E-1 was changed from basic airman to the current airman basic.[5]

Promotion from airman basic

Under normal circumstances, airmen basic are eligible for promotion to airman (E-2) after six months' time in grade (TIG). However, individuals enlisting for six years are promoted from AB to airman first class (A1C) upon completion of either technical training (or 20 weeks thereof) or the indoctrination course for combat control or pararescue.

In accordance with AFI 36-2502, Airman Promotion Program, all promotions from AB require that an airman's immediate commanding officer approve the promotion in writing before he or she may assume it.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Department of Defense Enlisted Rank Insignias". U.S. Department of Defense Official Website.  
  2. ^ "Air Force Grade and Insignia". Air Force Link.  
  3. ^ Partridge, Eric; Tom Dalzell; Terry Victor (2005-12-05). "slick-sleeve". The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. TF-ROUTL. p. 1779.  
  4. ^  
  5. ^ a b c  
  6. ^  
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