Active duty service members have wanted to influence where they get stationed since the beginning of the modern United States Military. In the United States Air Force, we have a “dream sheet” or a list of preferred military bases that is taken into consideration when the Air Force Personnel Center gives out assignments.
It is important to make sure that you keep your dream sheet up to date, and to refresh it at the right time if you want to maximize your chances of getting an assignment. Whether you hate your first assignment, you just wouldn’t mind a change of scenery, or just want to have a say in your next assignment, this guide will tell you step for step, how to update your dream sheet in the Air Force.
Air Force Portal
The first step to updating your dream sheet is to log on to the Air Force Portal. This will be the home page where you navigate your way around most things in the Air Force.
To navigate where we need to go, we need to hover over the Career and Training tab. Under the selections that we are given, we will click on AFPC secure.
Air Force Personnel Center
AFPC is used to navigate everything administrative wise that relates to assignments, records, and promotions. For the purpose of updating our dream sheet we will need to open two links through the main menu. The AMS link and the vMPF link. I recommend right clicking to “open in a new tab.”
Assignment Management System
The AMS link will bring you to the Assignment Management System. We use this website to see which bases we can go to with our assigned career fields or AFSC. You want to know this information because there would be no point in putting a location on your dream sheet if you cannot even go there because of your AFSC.
The reason not every AFSC can go to every Air Force base is because there are different weapons systems and aircraft at every base.
To find out which bases you can go to hover over the Enlisted Assignments tab, and click Enlisted Authorized.
In the next page, find your AFSC in the drop down tab. If you have a “shred” make sure you include the last letter of your AFSC.
Now, select your Skill Level. If you are a new airman at your first base, you’ll be a 3 level. After that, click the Get Authorizations button.
A list should populate telling you where you are authorized an assignment at. You’ll use these to update your dream sheet.
Virtual Military Personnel Flight
Now that we know the locations we can actually go to, we’ll go to the vMPF website through the AFPC site we used earlier. The vMPF website is used to keep all of your military records consolidated in one place.
Once you get logged on click the Self-Service actions button.
Under the Self-Service Actions menu, click the Assignments link.
Now, we’ll be in an Assignment Applications menu. Click on the Assignment Preference (EAP) link.
After clicking this link, you’ll be brought to a page with an introduction to assignment preferences. Click on View/Change Assignment Preferences.
Now, you are finally in the menu where you can update your dream sheet! There’s two boxes where you can make selections. The top box is for CONUS bases, and the bottom box is for OCONUS bases.
Scroll through the list on the left, click the base you like, and select the right arrow between the two boxes to move it over to your assignment preferences box. You can adjust the priority of them by clicking your selection, and clicking the up or down arrows on the right.
The OCONUS assignments are all overseas locations. You’ll notice some verbiage you may be unfamiliar with such as short tour, long tour, and extended long tour.
Short tour is any location in which an accompanied tour is not authorized or a location in which unaccompanied tour length is less than 18 months and the accompanied tour length is 24 months. This is hard on military families.
If you put a short tour on your dream sheet, it’ll jump ahead of your OCONUS priority. It doesn’t matter if you have it in the last position or the first, if there’s an opening and you’re qualified to go, you’ll be selected.
Long tour is any location in which both accompanied and unaccompanied tour is authorized. If you want your dependents to come, make sure they are documented in DEERs and they are on your orders when you get them.
Long tours are 18 months or more. There’s the option for standard tours and extended tours. Standard tours means you just complete the standard amount of time that the assignment is normally given.
Extended means add a year to your assignment. For example, when I was given an assignment to Japan, I was on an extended long tour, which since I was married meant 3 years plus 1 year. I did not understand this upon accepting the assignment.
The benefit of extended tours is that you should receive assignment consideration ahead of those who only volunteer for a standard tour. That means you’ll be more likely to get selected for an assignment if you want to go overseas. The main difference is that you have a higher priority, but you’ll be locked in for an extra year.
After you make your selections and you’re happy with your prioritization, select the submit button at the bottom.
Make sure you go to the next screen and verify that you have a success notification.
If you have the success notification then congratulations! You have successfully updated your dream sheet.
Tips for Updating Your Dream Sheet
You are responsible for keeping your dream sheet current. Make sure that you date your assignment preferences whenever you need to to include getting married or completing a PCS.
You will not be released from an assignment because your preferences are out of date or you have made no preference selections. It takes very special circumstances for an assignment to be canceled.
In the AMS website there are some listings to make note of. There’s the Overseas listing and the Overseas Returnee/CONUS Mandatory Mover listing. These general cycles get updated regularly throughout the year, and if you update your dream sheet based on these listings, you will increase your odds of getting an assignment.
The available slots are normally most abundant during the spring cycle because it is peak PCS season.
The Overseas listing in AMS advertises available slots at overseas USAF bases. There is a somewhat short period of this window that you should review the available assignments overseas and refresh your dream sheet if you want one of the positions.
The best bet is to refresh it one time at the beginning on the window and don’t touch it anymore because if you continually refresh it every day your name goes to the bottom of the pile.
If you really want an overseas assignment, make sure you put extended long tours and short tours on your dream sheet. This will increase your odds of going overseas.
Don’t leave your dream sheet completely blank just because you do not want to receive an assignment. At a minimum, make your dream sheet in order of preference for CONUS locations. If you do not want to go overseas, then don’t put overseas assignments on your dream sheet.
The entire process of updating your dream sheet is a little out of date, and the websites are old and terrible. Be patient with the systems and knock it out.
Basic Training Dream Sheet
In Basic Military Training, you should have the opportunity to create a dream sheet for selection first duty assignment. This will happen when you are granted an AFSC. If you know what your Air Force Specialty Code is going into basic, then I highly recommend having your recruiter look up the bases that you can go to before you ship out to BMT.
If they do not know how, reference the Assignment Management System section of this article. Create your own “dream sheet” by looking at the bases that you can go to with your assigned career field and have an idea of your preferred location before you go to basic.
When you create your dream sheet in basic training, that’ll be used to generate you an assignment while your in tech school. From the training pipeline, you’ll go to your first permanent duty station
If you do not know your specific AFSC going into basic training. At a minimum, brush up on your high school geography before you ship out. For example, if you want to stay on the west coast, brush up on all of the west coast bases in the Air Force so you can recognize them in BMT.
Military life is hard, and not knowing where you’ll be in a year or two is tough. Updating your dream sheet to reflect your assignment preferences is the best way to have a little clarity in a murky general assignment process.
The bottom line is that the needs of the Air Force comes first. But, the good news is that your preferences are taken into consideration so make sure that your Dream Sheet is up to date.