My own personal scare seems to be over. Apparently I am not getting the dreaded "prime candidate" email, at least not this time. Of course, next summer bidding season, M will be bidding, and presumably, if I get a two-year position this round, I will be the following summer. I fully expect one or both of us to get the call by then.
I do know a number of folks who got the email, and I have to say that the identification process for "prime candidates" is even less transparent than I expected. Of the four folks I know personally who have gotten the email, only one has regional and language experience. A good friend from A-100 has served in Algiers and Beijing, so he has French and Chinese. One woman in the Ops center got the email because the person on the committee knew her. Another has served in Romania and England. On the one hand, I am glad they are "spreading the wealth" to folks outside of those who have served in the Middle East. On the other, how are they choosing? Grade, cone and transfer eligibility date seem to have the most to do with it, but I can't really be sure of that.
It does seem like they are targetting people at the rank of FS 03. So maybe there is at least one bright spot to my not getting promoted this time.