AF: "No movement" in its early release policy

The U.S. Air Force has confirmed to that there is "no movement" to make any changes to its current policy which prohibits Air Force Academy graduates from pursuing professional sports careers upon commissioning. is still awaiting word from the U.S. Navy regarding its stance on an Army policy which has allowed three West Point cadets to pursue careers with the NFL this week.

According to Air Force spokesperson Capt. Tom Wenz, Air Force Instruction 36-3205, which was updated on March 10, 2008, requires all Air Force officers to serve at least two years on active duty before they are allowed to submit a request for an early release from their service obligation.  If approved, air force officers would be assigned to a selected reserve unit to support recruiting or public affairs efforts for a period at least twice as long as the time they owe to the service.


Wenz said that the update of the Air Force instruction was necessary due to the issuance of the August 2007 Department of Defense memorandum which outlined the new service-wide policy regarding service members who were seeking professional careers before the end of their military commitments.


Air Force Academy graduates are allowed to request a waiver to this policy which in effect would allow them to pursue their professional careers immediately as is the case with their comrades at West Point.  According to Wenz, one such request has been made thus far by 2nd Lieutenant Karl Bolt, a 2007 Air Force Academy graduate.  Bolt asked to be released from active duty so he could pursue a baseball career with the Philadelphia Phillies.  His request was denied by David Chu, the Undersecretary for Defense for Personnel and Readiness.


And while is still awaiting word from the U.S. Navy on its current policy, we were able to confirm that in January 2007, Donald C. Winter, Secretary of the Navy signed a memorandum that outlawed any Naval personnel from pursuing an early release from duty to pursue a professional career, regardless of how many years they have served in uniform.


Winter, in the memorandum, stated, "As the nation is at war and the other services have utilized Stop Loss authority to maintain readiness, I believe it is inappropriate to continue this policy."  The policy Winter was referring to was a Navy policy issued in November 2000. is trying to confirm whether or not the U.S. Navy, like the U.S. Air Force has issued any further guidance in response to the 2007 Department of Defense memorandum.


This week, three Army football players, Caleb Campbell, Mike Viti and Owen Tolson have either been drafted or have signed free agent contracts with NFL teams.


If the U.S. Navy falls in line with the U.S. Air Force, high school football players who aspire to play football at a service academy, while leaving the door open for a possible and immediate NFL career, will have an easy decision to make in regards to where to attend.


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