What is an Air Force SURF and why is it important?

Air Force SURF and USAF logo



What is a United States Air Force SURF and why is it important? Whether you are considering a career in the United States Air Force, are already active, or are retired, it's necessary to know what a SURF is. Your SURF can make a significant impact on your career within the Air Force and yet few actually know what a SURF is, its significance or where to find it. For starters, SURF stands for Single Unit Retrieval Format, although that's not a very telling name, is it? Every member of the United States Air Force has their own Single Unit Retrieval Format and it is a summary of an individual's career within the Air Force, somewhat like a brief resume. This summary allows commanding officers to get a glimpse of what kind of person the individual is, and what they've accomplished throughout their time in the Air Force. Included in the SURF is an Air Force personnel's duty title, duty history, Air Force Specialty Codes, as well as any and all awards and decorations they have received. These are all some of the most basic, yet most vital pieces of information regarding an individual's service within the Air Force. Why is it so important though? As previously mentioned, the SURF functions like a resume, so whenever an individual is seeking a promotion, as with any job, those in charge of choosing the perfect candidate will want to see a breakdown of what makes that person right for the position. When there is a multitude of individuals seeking the same promotion, scanning through each person's SURF allows for a faster and easier process of comparing and contrasting who makes the cut, and who does not.

Air Force SURF

This is where it then becomes important to know where to find one's own SURF because SURF's aren't always up to date or entirely accurate. It would be devastating to lose a promotion because one failed to check their SURF and make sure it was up to date and fully accurate before being reviewed. Air Force personnel should check their SURF regularly to ensure it receives the proper updates and corrections as needed throughout the year, and not just in a panic right before trying for a promotion. An individual's SURF can be accessed on the Air Force Personnel Center website through the Assignment Management System. However, it should be noted that someone's SURF is not always the document referenced when being considered for promotion, At times, a similar document known as a Record Of Performance, or ROP, is used to determine whether or not the individual should be promoted. As such, it is important that Air Force personnel keep both documents up to date and accurate in case one or the other are pulled by commanding officers for consideration. We are our own best advocates, no one can represent us better than we can, therefore, personnel should be diligent in keeping their records in check at all times so as not to rob themselves of any opportunities!

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