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​Air Force officers can now decline certain educational assignments without being forced to separate or retire, the service recently announced. The change pertains to in-residence intermediate or senior developmental education assignments, such as Air Command and Staff College or Air War College, according to a release. Previously, officers who wanted to decline such an assignment were required to submit a request for separation or retirement within seven days of notification of the assignment. The new policy differentiates between developmental educational assignments and those that are considered operational. Operational educational assignments “are critical in meeting mission requirements and remain essential, ” said Maj. Kevin Jernigan, the workforce development and career programs deputy branch chief, according to the release. Officers who decline a developmental assignment will not be able to hold their nomination for the declined assignment, but they can reapply for the assignment at a later date with the approval of their senior rater. The policy change is in effect this year, and officers must decline an assignment they are not able to accept by Dec. 19.