The following blog was written by Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk
The Sailors in our Navy today are truly the “cream of the crop.” Sailors are increasingly looking at the Navy as a great long-term career choice, and the Navy is committed to retaining the best trained, most capable, and most highly motivated force for the future. Programs like Perform-to-Serve (PTS) and the Enlisted Retention Board (ERB) have enabled those mutual objectives.
While increased retention over the past decade can be partially attributed to the current economy, many additional factors such as work-life balance initiatives and improved compensation have made the Navy a very attractive career choice. However, this unusually high retention has been uneven across all Navy ratings. Some ratings are overmanned due to force structure reductions and the national unemployment posture, resulting in higher retention. At the same time, there is persistent undermanning in some technical ratings where employment demand in the civilian market remains high. Some hardworking, experienced Sailors are not able to advance due to overmanning in their ratings, and Sailors in some undermanned ratings are experiencing unusually high operational demands to meet Navy requirements.
To help in balancing uneven retention, Navy is utilizing a range of force management measures to retain Sailors in the right mix of ratings and experience. In addition to our voluntary early separation programs, PTS is our primary system used to manage the force to ensure our highest-performing Sailors have the opportunity to convert, reenlist and advance. Overmanning in some ratings was so high that PTS was becoming overburdened and was not as effective as it needs to be. The ERB was held to retain our highest quality Sailors across each of our 31 most overmanned ratings.
We have made significant progress in rebalancing the Force this year. Through PTS, 1,052 Sailors were converted from overmanned to undermanned ratings in the past year. The ERB will further reduce overmanning in 31 specific ratings resulting in additional PTS and advancement opportunity. Top performers in every rating and year group will now have an opportunity for reenlistment approval, even when a rating is overmanned. The improved rating balance has also stabilized advancement opportunity Fleet-wide; we will see increased E4/5/6 advancement opportunities in the coming advancement cycles. Advancements in these ratings are projected to be above the Navy-wide average for the next two to three cycles, after which they will fall more in line with historical advancement rates. As a result of our force management actions, Navy opportunities for top performing Sailors are actually increasing and manning in ratings chronically undermanned is improving. These steps to maintain a balanced force are benefiting the entire Fleet.