Applicable to: Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve
Sanctuary is comprised of law, policy, eligibility and ineligibility criteria for Air Force Reserve (AFR) and Active Duty Air National Guard (ANG). Regular Air Force does not utilize this function.
Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Sanctuary Provisions
Active Duty Sanctuary is any ANG, AFR officer or enlisted member who attains 18, but less than 20, years of Total Active Federal Military Service (TAFMS) must remain on active duty unless they voluntarily separate, medically disqualified for continued service, or is separated or discharged for cause.
Title 10 United States Code (USC), § 12686(a) and 12646(e) establish an active duty (AD) retirement sanctuary for members of all Air Reserve Components (ARCs).
Under regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary concerned, which shall be as uniform as practicable, a member of a Reserve component who is on AD (other than for training), and is within two years of becoming eligible for retired pay or retainer pay under a purely military retirement system…may not be involuntarily released from that duty before he becomes eligible for that pay, unless release is approved by the Secretary (Title 10 USC § 12686(a)).
Reserve Sanctuary under Title 10 USC § 1176 (b) (enlisted), 12646(a) and (b) (officer) is for ANG and AFR serving in an active Reserve status that have completed 18, but less than 20 years of satisfactory service.
Active Duty Protection begins with 18 years of TAFMS and ends with 20 years of TAFMS. The member will have limited entitlement to remain on AD for the purpose of qualifying for an active duty retirement.
Reserve Enlisted Sanctuary Protection
Reserve enlisted sanctuary allows Air Reserve Component (ARC) Airmen, in participating status, who have 18 but less than 20 years of satisfactory service, and are under the age of 60, to be eligible for reserve sanctuary and remain in an active participating status, when he/she may be (Title 10 U.S.C., Section 1176(b)):
- Selected for involuntarily separation
- Denied reenlistment and term of enlistment (ETS) is about to expire
- Undergoing discharge (not for cause)
- Transferred from an active status
If an Airman has completed 18 years of satisfactory service, the ETS is adjusted three years to allow the Airman to earn 20 satisfactory years of creditable service to qualify for retired pay at age 60. If an Airman has 19 years of satisfactory service, the ETS is adjusted two years to qualify for retired pay at age 60.
For ANG, adjustments to the ETS will require coordination with the National Guard Bureau, Force Management Division (NGB/A1P) to allow for completion of 20 years of satisfactory service.
NOTE: Airman extended for the purpose of obtaining a Reserve Retirement must maintain an active participation status during this extension period in order to complete the satisfactory service years to qualify for retirement.
Enlisted members in an active participating status who are selected to be involuntarily separated for physical disability or for cause are not eligible for Reserve sanctuary under 10 U.S.C. §§ 1176(b).
1. Enlisted members who are unable to find or maintain a position in the Selected Reserve, and eligible for sanctuary, are assigned to the Nonaffiliated Reserve Section (NARS/NC). In this status they will be able to earn points for retirement through Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning.
2. Enlisted members will remain in NARS/NC until the adjusted ETS/MSD or completion of 20 years satisfactory service, whichever is earlier.
Reserve Officer Sanctuary Protection
Reserve officer sanctuary automatically retains officers with 18 but less than 20 years of satisfactory service, under the age of 62 and physically qualified, within Reserve sanctuary, if they (Title 10 U.S.C., Section 12646(a)(b)(c)):
- Are approaching their mandatory separation date (MSD)
- Have been twice-deferred for promotion to the next higher grade
- Have completed at least 18 or 19 but less than 20 years of satisfactory service and are otherwise eligible for retirement, then:
- MSD is adjusted three years for those with 18 years of service
- MSD is adjusted two years for those with 19 years of service
This will allow the officer to earn 20 years of creditable service
Officers in sanctuary may remain in their respective assignments until they reach their adjusted MSD or complete 20 years of satisfactory service, whichever is earlier.
An officer's MSD that is extended for the purpose of obtaining a Reserve Retirement must maintain an active participation status during this extension period in order to complete the satisfactory service years to qualify for retirement.
Officers who are discharged or transferred from an active participating status for physical disability, for cause, or because they have reached the age at which transfer from an active participating status or discharge is required by law are not eligible for reserve sanctuary under Title 10 U.S.C. § 12646.
Officers who are unable to find or maintain a position in the Selected Reserve, and eligible for sanctuary, are assigned to the Nonaffiliated Reserve Section (NARS/NC). In this status they will be able to earn points for retirement through Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning.
1. Officers who are unable to find or maintain a position in the Selected Reserve, and eligible for sanctuary, are assigned to the Nonaffiliated Reserve Section (NARS/NC). In this status they will be able to earn points for retirement through Air Force Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning.
2. Officers will remain in NARS/NC until the adjusted DOS/MSD, SMO or completion of 20 years satisfactory service, whichever is earlier.
How to Submit a Claim to Invoke Active Sanctuary
A member desiring to claim/invoke Active Duty (AD) sanctuary protection under Title 10 U.S.C., Section, 12686 must apply in writing while on AD (other than for training) and while in the sanctuary zone.
The written request must be submitted through the member’s chain of command and on to the respective NAF/RMG/CC or National Guard Bureau, Directorate of Manpower, Personnel and Services (NGB/A1) or State/Territory Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) (as applicable) for processing.
The process for claiming/invoking AD sanctuary protection is detailed in AFI 36-2131, Administration of Sanctuary in the Air Reserve Components, Chapters 1 and 4; Attachments 5,6,7, 8 and 10 as applicable.
Invoking AD Sanctuary Protection
The member will be identified to HQ Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) for immediate accession into the AD Air Force under Title 10 U.S.C. 12301(d), AFI 36-2008, Voluntary Extended Active Duty (EAD) for Air Reserve Commissioned Officers
If the member claims/invokes sanctuary as outlined above and is not medically disqualified, separated, or discharged for cause, HQ AFPC will make this member available for worldwide assignment.
Voluntary AD and Sanctuary Provision
Any ARC member performing ADOS (T10 or T32), RPA, MPA or applicable ST tours (see Terms under 'Tools') specifying 180 days or less for which the period of AD would result in the member qualifying for AD sanctuary, may not begin the tour without an approved waiver in place prior to the tour start date.
Any error or breach of policy, with regard to sanctuary waivers, is avoided if the member (who is in or whose upcoming tour would place them in the sanctuary zone) has a signed/approved waiver in place prior to the tour start date for any voluntary tours of active duty.
Although a member has a signed/approved waiver in place, he/she will continue to accumulate active duty points during the waiver period which could eventually lead to an active duty retirement.
Sanctuary waiver requirements do not apply to members performing IDT, ADT or are activated under involuntary authorities under Title 10 USC §12301(a), 12302, or 12304.
Each applicable 'Statement of Understanding' template as it pertains to component, status and type of AD is provided in AFI 36-2131:
- Attachment 3 - WAIVER OF ACTIVE DUTY (AD) SANCTUARY (Unit /Individual Reservist/Mobilization Assistant (MA))
- Attachment 4 - WAIVER OF ACTIVE DUTY (AD) SANCTUARY (Air National Guard)
- Attachment 5 - UNIT/IR CLAIM FOR SANCTUARY PROTECTION (Invoked on MPA/RPA/ADOS tour absent a waiver in place)
- Attachment 6 - ANG CLAIM FOR SANCTUARY PROTECTION (Invoked on T10 or T32 MPA, ADOS or ST tour absent a waiver in place)
- Attachment 7 - UNIT/IR REQUEST TO INVOKE SANCTUARY (Upon Demobilization)
- Attachment 8 - ANG REQUEST TO INVOKE SANCTUARY (Upon Demobilization)
- Attachment 9 - DECLINATION (Upon Demobilization)
Invoking Sanctuary Protection without executing an Initial Sanctuary Waiver
In the event a member is placed in a voluntary order status without executing a sanctuary waiver and declines to separate voluntarily from the AD tour or is not medically disqualified, separated or discharged for cause and elects to invoke sanctuary protection, the following procedures are required:
Air Force Reserve Policy
Members are accessed into the AFR Active Guard/Reserve (AGR) Program. The documents at Atch 5 (AFI 36-2131) will be completed and forwarded to AFRC/A1RY for processing for placement.
Active Guard Reserve (AGR) end-strength is congressionally mandated and request for exceptions will not be addressed for these situations.
A member will be assigned to a position based on the needs of the AFR and such assignment terminates upon the member reaching eligibility for an immediate AD retirement.
Air National Guard Policy
The State/Territory is required to provide full-time military employment, utilizing the current authorized AGR resources.
AFI 36-2131, Attachment 6 will be completed by the member with assistance of the unit and submitted to the State/Territory for placement.
NGB/A1 will not provide the State/Territory additional AGR resources for these situations. Any such assignment will terminate upon member reaching eligibility for an immediate retirement.
1. To prevent performing a voluntary tour of AD that may result in eligibility ARC members must submit a Statement of Understanding (USAFR attachment 3, ANG attachment 4) to their Commander, servicing Military Personnel Section (MPS), Force Support Squadron (FSS) or Individual Reservist (IR) Program Manager (PM).
2. The waiver must accompany the AD tour request, or the tour will not be approved and orders will not be published. Any extension of AD cannot commence without an additional waiver for the period of the tour extension
These options are only available if the member has been mobilized involuntarily under Title 10 USC § 12301(a), 12302 or 12304.
- Option #1--Decline sanctuary zone protection: Upon completion of counseling, if the individual indicates he/she does not desire to invoke sanctuary zone protection IAW Title 10 USC § 12686(a), the individual must sign a Declination statement (attachment 9).
- Option #2--Invoke sanctuary protection: Upon completion of counseling, if the individual indicates he/she desires to invoke sanctuary protection IAW Title 10 USC § 12686(a), the individual must sign the Request to Invoke Sanctuary statement (attachment 7 or 8 as applicable) and complete an Assignment Worksheet (See 'Tools').
ARC personnel who claim sanctuary apply for active duty retention through their respective NAF (unit), RMG (IR/PIRR), NGB/A1PO (ANG), or AFRC/A1RY (Joint Services unit members) who will, in turn, electronically forward the sanctuary claim forms (Attachment 7 or 8 and 10) for O-5 and below to Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC); and to Headquarter Air Force Colonel Management Office (AF/DPO) for O-6.
The ARC member will be identified to AFPC or AF/DPO for immediate accession into the AD Air Force under Title 10 USC § 12301(d) upon completion of the involuntary mobilization tour. If a member invokes sanctuary and is not medically disqualified, separated, or discharged for cause, AFPC will make this member available for worldwide assignment based on Air Force needs.
NOTE: Advise members to be timely in their decisions; processing time may affect orders, pay and benefits.
Options at 20 Years TAFMS
The following options are available to the member upon completion of 20 years TAFMS:
- Request a voluntary active duty retirement via AF Form 1160, Military Retirement Actions through Virtual Military Personnel Flight (vMPF)
- USAFR only: Forego active duty retirement and request reassignment back to a Reserve unit by contacting a Reserve recruiter for initiation of AF Form 1288. If the member is a prior Air Reserve Technician (ART), he/she may request restoration back to ART status by contacting AFRC/A1CS
- ANG only: Members are not eligible to return to the ANG. Members should request a voluntary active duty retirement via the online AF Form 1160 application through the virtual Military Personnel Flight (vMPF)