LEAP application windows, selection board dates, and eligibility criteria, are advertised annually through the Air Force Portal, the AFCLC public website, and the AFCLC Facebook page.
The AFCLC accepts eligible Air Force and Space Force Active Duty members, United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) cadets, and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) cadets. Application packages include current Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) and/or Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) scores, transcripts, performance reports, training reports, Single Unit Retrieval Formats (SURFs), language training certificates, commander’s endorsement, and/or other documents as specified in the application announcement.
To apply for LEAP, applicants must possess some proficiency in a foreign language specified on the Air Force Strategic Language List (SLL), as measured by DLPTs or OPIs. The SLL is managed by the Air Force's Language, Regional Expertise and Culture Program Office (AF/A1D-LREC) at the Pentagon. Interested applicants should contact their local Test Control Officer (TCO) to check if their language is on the Air Force SLL. TCOs are usually located with the local Education Office.
Selection to LEAP is based on applicants’ existing language abilities, potential to achieve higher levels of language proficiency, and Air Force requirements. The LEAP Selection Board reviews applicant packages to determine which applicants are most willing and able to undertake LEAP education and training with the potential to fill Air Force and/or Space Force language positions and taskings. The AFCLC Director makes selection recommendations to the Air Force Senior Language Authority (SLA) based on LEAP Selection Board results and Air Force LREC office guidance. Upon entry into the program, LEAP scholars are assigned a language based on their documented proficiencies and Air Force and/or Space Force needs. This language is deemed their “selected” language, or Control Language (CLANG).
Eligible candidates may submit applications to the AFCLC within the respective timelines. Applications submitted after the established deadlines will not be considered. Candidates and their commanders will be notified of the results via email approximately 60 days after the selection board convenes. Personnel must submit applications through the LEAP site, LEADeR, accessible through the Air Force Portal. Service members must have a Common Access Card (CAC) reader and register for an Air University (AU) Portal account to submit a LEAP application.
Benefits of LEAP
#1 Develop / Maintain Your Language, Regional Expertise and Culture Skills
You are invested in one or more foreign languages through academic study, travel, cultural immersion, growing up in a foreign country, and/or living in a multi-lingual household. Why put your skills on a shelf? Develop and sustain them as a LEAP scholar (see LEAP spotlight stories).
LEAP develops and sustains language and cross-cultural skills in two primary ways:
eMentor: Online synchronous language courses (targeting growth in all four modalities: listening, speaking, reading, and writing, which are developed by exploring culturally relevant topics), scheduled on days / times that work with your schedule, taught by gifted and engaging native-level language instructors.
Language Intensive Training Events (LITEs): Periodic temporary duty (TDY) immersions, averaging 30 days, involving classroom learning with other service members (often in a target language country) and/or via Department of Defense sponsored bilateral and international exercises, conferences, or mobile training team events.
The Air Force Culture and Language Center (AFCLC) provides flexible scheduling for all courses, working around the LEAP scholar’s schedule, training, and mission needs. The AFCLC understands that career field requirements and technical training take priority.
#2 Obtain Rewarding Assignments and TDYs
Through LEAP, the AFCLC connects service members to language-designated opportunities and events. Being a part of LEAP distinguishes the service member within their career field and opens doors to:
#3 Earn the LEAP Special Experience Identifier (SEI)
LEAP scholars who attain the required level of proficiency and experience are awarded the LEAP Special Experience Identifier (SEI), which is used by force managers to identify qualified service members for assignments and other opportunities. In addition, LEAP SEI is used to qualify members for Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus (FLPB) pay. For more information, see AFI 36-4005.
Results will be disseminated approximately 60 days after the Board meets on 14-15 April.
Eligibility Criteria and Application Instructions
SrA thru CMSgt
Minimum Time in
4 years as of 17 August 2021
No minimum TIS
Maximum TIS or Commissioned Service
Applicants who have more than 16 years TIS as of 17 August 2021 will be considered on a case-by-case basis
Applicants who have more than 16 years commissioned service as of 19 August 2021 will be considered on a case-by-
Applicants must indicate their intent to remain in the service for an additional two
years or more
Completion of 5-Skill Level and Career Field Education and Training Plan
1N3 and 1A8X1 career fields
16F - Foreign Area Officers
Application Site: Applying through the Language Enabled Airman Development Resource (LEADeR) will require use of a Common Access Card (CAC) and Air Force (AF) Portal account. Applicants must submit applications through LEADeR at https://leader.sso.cce.af.mil. Applicants that need to create or update their AF Portal account will be redirected to the AF Portal upon initial access attempt.
Application Format: An application submitted via LEADeR with the following attachments is required:
A. Single Unit Retrieval Format (SURF).
B. Three most recent, signed / finalized Performance Reports (OPR/EPR), Training Reports, or combination.
C. College transcripts listing all courses taken and the associated grade for each course (unofficial post- secondary copies are acceptable). If an officer or enlisted member has degrees listed on their SURF, they must provide the transcripts for those degrees. Certificates from foreign language schools are optional.
D. DLPT and / or OPI score report. Applicants must possess scores in at least two modalities with scores of 0+ or higher in both modalities. If Listening and Reading tests are available for a given language, applicants must provide scores for both. If Listening and/or Reading tests are not available for a given language, applicants must provide OPI scores. Submission of OPI scores is highly encouraged for all languages. For purposes of the FY21 Board, scores of 3/3 or higher must have been certified on or after 16 July 2018. Scores of 2+/2+ or lower must have been certified on or after 16 July 2019.
E. An endorsement from Commander / Director is mandatory for all applicants and should be submitted directly through the online application site, prior to the closing of the application window. Endorsement, submitted through the online application site by a supervisor, is optional but highly encouraged for all applicants.
NOTE: Applications that contain one or more unreadable or incorrectly aligned (sideways or upside down) documents will be marked "ineligible" for consideration.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
SECTION I - Program Overview
Q: What is the purpose of LEAP?
A: The purpose of LEAP is to deliberately develop language-enabled, cross-culturally competent Airmen and Guardians across the General Purpose Force (GPF) specialties to enhance the application of air and space power and fill global mission requirements. LEAP provides Airmen and Space Professionals with the education and training required to reach desired proficiency levels with as little time away from their units and positions at a lower cost over an acceptable time period. LEAP selects willing and able Airmen and Guardians, develops and sustains Language Regional Expertise and Culture (LREC) skills over the course of a career, and postures them for utilization in assignments, contingencies, and deployments.
Q: Who manages LEAP?
A: The Air Force Culture and Language Center (AFCLC) manages LEAP for the United States Air Force and United States Space Force, to include tracking administrative records, executing training, and performing other related tasks. The AFCLC is organized under Air University and Air War College, located at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
Q: How and why did LEAP originate?
A: In 2005, the Office of the Secretary of Defense released the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap, which charged the services to create a bench of language capable personnel within the GPF. In 2009, the Air Force Senior Language Authority (SLA) directed AFCLC to initiate LEAP, a career- spanning program to develop a cadre of Airmen across all specialties with working level foreign language proficiency and cross-cultural competency. In FY13, LEAP was designated a Program of Record.
SECTION II - Application
Q: Can United States Space Force Guardians apply to LEAP?
A: Yes, enlisted and officer Guardians assigned to the United States Space Force may apply.
A: Applicants are required to address the following:
Q: What should I address in my application comments?
A: When writing your narrative, address how you have developed your LREC skills and how you intend to further develop and utilize those skills in the future in support of air and/or space missions. Give examples that demonstrate the use of language and cultural knowledge on an on-going basis. Explain your motivation for seeking to enhance your language skills, inter-cultural knowledge, and cross-cultural competency. Give examples of how you think an understanding of other nations’ languages and culture might contribute to mission success. Communicate how you see your language(s) and cultural knowledge being a value added resource to the Air Force and/or Space Force.
Q: How important are the application documents?
A. Very important. The application package is the basis on which the board will determine an individual’s candidacy. Consequently, attention to detail and compliance with directions are critically important. Both qualities reflect the kind of officer who will excel in LEAP. Board members have a limited amount of time to evaluate a candidate; errors will lead to ineligibility or lower scores.
Q: What should my leadership consider when writing my endorsement?
A: A quality endorsement (push note) highlights the applicant’s professional qualities, standing among peers, academic record, leadership qualities, and potential for future growth and development through LEAP. The endorsement (narrative block) is limited to 500 characters.
Q: Do I have to take the DLPT to apply to the program?
A: Yes. Applicants must possess Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) and/or Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) scores in at least two modalities. If Listening and Reading tests are available for a given language, applicants must provide scores for both. If Listening and/or Reading tests are not available for a given language, applicants must provide OPI scores. For purposes of the FY21 Board, scores of 3/3 or higher must have been certified on or after 16 July 2018. For scores of 2+/2+ or lower, they must have been certified on or after 16 July 2019. Contact your Base Education Office for more information related to scheduling DLPT/OPI testing.
Q: How do AFROTC cadets schedule a DLPT?
A: AFROTC cadets, with the assistance of detachment staff, are encouraged to plan and schedule their DLPTs (and OPIs, as appropriate), early in the academic year. AFROTC cadets may take the DLPT at any testing location supported by the US Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). (Note: Test administration may be limited due to COVID-19 or other factors.) As an alternative option, a qualified staff member at their Detachment can monitor administration of the exam. For information on obtaining access to facilitate DLPT administration, the Detachment staff may contact the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A: The AFCLC highly encourages all applicants to take the OPI, but this is not mandatory unless the applicant is using the OPI as one of their two modalities.
Q: Will the AFCLC consider any of the following:
A: No. The AFCLC will not consider any of the foregoing requests or other similar requests.
Q: Are Air Reserve Components (ARC) members eligible to apply for LEAP?
A: No. For FY21 boards, ARC members will not be allowed to apply via the LEAP board.
Q: Why are Foreign Area Officers (FAO) and Bilateral Affairs Officers (BAO) ineligible to apply for LEAP?
A: Regular Air Force (RegAF) FAOs receive development and sustainment training through the Secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs. Reg AF / Reserve FAOs and Guard BAOs are already eligible to participate in AFCLC eMentor courses alongside LEAP scholars, on a space available basis.
Q: How many times may I apply for LEAP?
A: Qualified individuals may apply as often as necessary given they meet the program requirements.
SECTION III - Selection
Q: How many LEAP scholars are selected per year?
A: The AFCLC recruits, selects, and on-boards scholars with the objective of building and sustaining an inventory that exceeds one percent of the active duty force. The total annual selection target for officers, enlisted, and cadets is 400 LEAP scholars per year based on Air Force Senior Language Authority (SLA) guidance.
Q: Who reviews LEAP applications?
A: AFCLC staff members review applications to determine compliance with program guidance. The LEAP Selection Board consists of leaders who represent a cross-section of LREC specialist, policy, and force management communities. Board members review applicant packages and assign a score based on their assessment of the applicant’s attitude, aptitude, and record of performance.
Q: How are applicants selected for LEAP?
A: The AFCLC develops an order of merit list based on each individual's board score and potential to fill future language requirements, including Language-Designated Positions and low-density languages on the Air Force Senior Language List (SLL). The AFCLC assigns each LEAP scholar a "Selected" or Control Language (CLANG) based on the individual’s documented proficiencies and service needs. The SLA is the approval authority for LEAP Selection Board results.
Q: What languages does the board consider for the program?
A: The Board considers applicants in languages listed on the Air Force Strategic Language List (SLL). The Air Force SLL dated 1 July 2015 describes languages in which the Air Force has requirements authorized in out-years as well as strategic languages of interest. The Air Force SLL is based on the Department of Defense SLL and is expanded to align with validated Air Force requirements. The Air Force SLL is For Official Use Only (FOUO) and may be obtained from one's Test Control Officer at each installation education office.
Q: If I am accepted to LEAP for one of my languages, may I train later in another language?
A: The AFCLC will consider cross-training LEAP scholars in any language listed on the Air Force SLL by meeting either of two conditions: a) the cross-training language is a low-density language or b) the cross-training language is prevalent in the force and the member’s current or projected assignment requires the requested cross-training language.
SECTION IV - LEAP Commitment
Q: What time commitment is expected of a LEAP scholar?
A: LEAP is a volunteer program that occurs outside of normal duty requirements. Airmen and Guardians are expected to complete online eMentor courses every 2-4 years, depending on their proficiency level. Courses are delivered in 48-hour and 16-hour modules, with four hours of class every week. The AFCLC offers Language Intensive Training Events (LITEs), averaging 30 days, to Airmen and Guardians who qualify. In order to participate in a LITE a LEAP scholar must first obtain their commander's approval. When scheduling LITEs and eMentor, the AFCLC will work around the member's mandatory training, flying schedule, and/or mission ops tempo.
Q: May RegAF LEAP scholars who transition to the ARC participate in LEAP?
A: Yes. Regular Air Force members who transition to ARC units can continue in LEAP as ARC LEAP.
Q: If selected, will the applicant be reassigned or deployed?
A: The AFCLC does not determine or have any involvement in selecting members for assignments or deployments. However, LEAP scholars may be identified by force managers based on award of the LEAP Special Experience Identifier (SEI). The LEAP SEI identifies Airmen in the Air Force personnel system for filling language-designated positions via assignments, deployments, and TDYs.
Q: Do LEAP scholars receive Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus (FLPB)?
A: The LEAP Special Experience Identifier (SEI) is used to qualify LEAP scholars for Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus (FLPB). To qualify for the LEAP SEI, scholars must obtain a LEAP Level 3 and complete at least one LITE. Once a LEAP scholar is eligible for the LEAP SEI, AFCLC, will generate an AF Form 2096 awarding the SEI. The member will then complete a second AF Form 2096 signed by their Commander requesting FLPB. The member will take both AF Form 2096s to their Test Control Officer (TCO) at the education office to initiate their FLPB. For more information on FLPB, please see AFI 36-4005.
Q: Does applying and/or being selected into LEAP influence pilot selection or base assignments?
A: No it does not. Applying or being selected into LEAP is a separate process, conducted by separate organizations and do not influence each other.
551 E. Maxwell Blvd, Bldg 500, Maxwell AFB, AL 36112
Application and LEAP Board Schedule
Active Duty Enlisted Board Submission Window
Active Duty Enlisted Board Convenes
Active Duty Officer Board Submission Window
Active Duty Officer Board Convenes
Cadet Board Submission Window
Cadet Board Convenes