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Enlisted Retention Board Process Explained

The following is a message from Chief of Naval Personnel and Navy Total Force Command Fleet Master Chief  Scott Benning on the enlisted retention board process.

Over the past few years, we have had to make some difficult, but necessary choices to balance our force.  Our Navy has felt the effects of record-high retention in several ratings, under manning in other key ratings, force structure changes and decisions required to meet changing platforms and manning requirements.  To meet our global mission by filling billets at sea and manning the Fleet with the right mix of Sailors, we needed to use a combination of force-shaping methods.


It is important to recognize upfront that the ERB was conducted using the same principles as all of our boards – these principles are fairness, equity and integrity.  Our board process is a fair, structured and a tried-and-true process.  The board members strictly followed a board precept, which outlined how the board was executed.   The board was conducted in two phases, and the precept gave board members specific guidance on selection standards for each phase.  First was a performance review, where each member’s record was strictly examined following the precept.  Following that was the quota-based portion of the board, which racked-and-stacked each Sailor’s record next to their peers to select the best-qualified Sailors for retention.  Board members included a diverse group of officers, warrant officers, command master chiefs and master chiefs, representing different ratings, geographic locations and warfare perspectives, who relied on their best judgment and Fleet perspective throughout the process.

Most importantly, all members of the board took an oath pledging that they would perform their board duties without prejudice or partiality.  Under the oath, members also gave their word not to speak to anyone outside of the board about individual records, board discussions, or individual votes.  These measures ensure that members can be fully engaged in making the best decisions as a board, and maintains confidentiality and the integrity of the board process.

We recognize this also means that Sailors are not able to get more details on why they were separated, and for some that may be troubling.  While we understand that not having these details leaves many questions unanswered, and provides little closure, I want you to know that as a past member of several boards, I can personally attest that the Navy’s boards are conducted with the absolute highest levels of fairness, equity and integrity.

To our senior enlisted leaders – you have the very important task of making sure your Sailors stay smart on the many policies that will impact their careers.  Your Sailors are looking to you for guidance on how to be best prepared for milestones such as Perform to Serve, advancement exams, and selection boards.   Please do not take this responsibility lightly.

It’s also important that you take the lead in ensuring Sailors separating due to the ERB are aware of the many transition programs the Navy has in place to assist them, and their family members.  We’ve put in place several enhanced transition benefits for those Sailors.  Perhaps the most valuable is the outplacement service provided by the firm of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc., or CGC. Right now, Sailors enrolled with CGC are receiving one-on-one resume and interview preparation, customized job search and placement assistance to help them obtain civilian employment.  This program provides crucial benefits to our Sailors, and we strongly encourage all ERB-separating Sailors to take advantage of this service that has been contracted to enable greater opportunities for success as you transition.

Shipmates, just as you have been here for the Navy, your Navy leadership is here for you and we want to do all we can to assist you in a successful transition.

Thank you to all of our Sailors and their families who work extremely hard and sacrifice everyday to enable the success of our Navy and nation.  We are truly grateful for your service.



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  1. the erb is just wrong you  have career sailors getting booted out and its not right  offer the 15 year retirement if you want people to go  force e-7’s and above to retire first  after they ge their anchors their really hard working days are over they become more admin  in their fields for most cases why deplete the e-6 and below and lose the deck plate leadeship that the navy used to pride itself on…what are you telling the younger ranks thats your dreams of making the military a career may not happen because  of a board  that doesnt sit well…you not only letting people who may want to stay out of the navy  but you also are showing that to the youngers troops and they may not want to reenlist  so your screwing yourself both ways im glad i got to retire because your setting a awful precedence then when you numbers a low you will be kissing butts to get people to stay

  2. So glad I did my time and got out on my own accord. Loved the US Navy but looking in from the outside now- it has sure changed! Good luck shipmates. My training, and education guided me through 11 years and 9 months of great duty and service to my Country. Once out, I used my skills and knowledge to set goals and build a great career. Embrace the transition and good luck.
    Prior USN, 88-99 AO1

  3. “We recognize this also means that Sailors are not able to get more details on why they were separated, and for some that may be troubling.”  No kidding?  It may be troubling?  An over-committed force is being pushed to the limits and some “genius” in Washington thinks that cutting this part of the budget, reducing equipment and manpower, is a good idea.  The cycle continues.  Dump people that volunteered to be there out into a terrible employment market.  Cue up the Budweiser “Real Men (and Women) of Genius” music.  Here’s to you Mr. President and Congressional leaders.  You’ve taken an all volunteer force, stretched it to its very limits and then decided we can continue at this pace with less people.  The job and the lifestyle are tough enough.  Long hours, extended separations and pay that barely exceeds minimum wage (per hour of work) are just a few sacrifices being made every hour of every day.  Thank you sir, may we have another…  I can’t wait to reciprocate in November.  There are already a lot of good people being tossed out of the service they love and have given everything to protect.  Now its time to clean the dead wood out of Washington.  Cull the herd…

  4. My husband planned on making a career in the navy. We took pride in everything about the Navy. He was about to hit his 3 year mark and just happened to be on medical hold. We got a 10day notice that we were moving out if the navy, a general discharge. No benefits. Thank you navy for showing us your true side. On the positive side, my husband is finally able to do something he truly loves and not what the navy shoved at him, a Police officer and training for the k9 unit. Ohh and we were never told of these “benefits” when we were shoved out the door. The navy sure does take care of their men.

    Whatever happened to the family you used to be?

  5. Pat FT1/SS USN Ret

    And yet our valuable sailors, assets to their commands are left wondering why. There is no integrity without explanation. Each sailor selected to be dumped should have been provided an explanation of why they did not measure up.  This is not a failure of the individual sailor. It is a failure of leadership. Leadership which allowed ratings to become overmanned, It would have been easier to simply state – there’s two many sailors in the force, we have a quota to meet and some valuable folks will be tossed out along with those not so valuable.

  6. We Can Never Do Too Much (to help Sailors forced out due to budget concerns or the personnel drawdown).  Read some ideas how we can help them here:

  7. Sir, you’ve saved me from having to write a comment of my own.  You’ve said it as well as it could be said, and my adding anything could only muck it up–much like, as you said, the idiots running the country are doing.  “Cull the herd” indeed…

  8. So it’s fair to say that the top brass is clueless about the Navy’s comitments. I had max AIP for 3 years, watched 90% of the E5’s in my command leave with no replacements and my command was begging for bodies. I cross deck to another command where there are no E-6’s in my rate but they have three open billets and the senior 2nd has 6 years in… But I face the PTS boot because I was advised not to reenlist since I had two extensions and PTS wasn’t looking at 1st termers at the time. And that NC retired yesterday.

  9. A lot of the information given out it bogus.  We have been hoping that we can get in to the SELRES only to find out that it isn’t even an option for us.  The NC1 has been having my husband put in for the SELRES and they won’t take him period the end.  This is garbage we have two children and one on the way.  My husband is still currently deployed even though we are due to separate.  We have been treated poorly by everyone in the command and it is frustrating.  They have no limit on time for deployments they are “supposed” to give us 60 days before separation which isn’t nearly enough time.  The whole situation stinks they don’t want to send the ERB sailors home because they have no one to replace them with, but at the same time they are treating them like dirt.  I am so over this after 13 years it is too much and God forbid a war does happen because if they come knocking on our door to activate us.  The answer is going to be NO! They are firing us I think it is bogus that we have to join a reserve unit in order to get the Sep pay.  It is a way to ensure that they can call us back if there is a war.

  10. Sailor_perryman

    “Enhanced Transition benefits” what a joke. CGC is substandard by any measure of the stick. I have had my resume submitted to them since 12 Jan and they have yet to provide me with a Single job lead or interview. They did have a suggested job in my area. I clicked on the “suggested job” and it was a link to become a Navy Electronics Technician….. Strange considering that I am an AT1 who is being ERB’d out. Of course no one will tell you that the folks running CGC are a bunch of retired master chiefs who obviously pulled a few strings to get the 5 MILLION Dollar contract to provide a website that is riddled with errors and not user friendly to say the least. They are reporting to the NAVY that the ERB sailors are not contacting them. Problem is they are not providing anything useful to those affected by the ERB and they are a complete waste of time. They are sitting back with their feet kicked up on a desk telling people to rewrite your resume while they are raking in roughly $15,000 a day……

  11. Propaganda…Bet that new retirement raise your getting helped you SELL OUT enough to write this garbage.  I can’t wait for my husband to finally get another job so we can put the last 13 years we were manipulated out of behind us. This whole thing makes me sick. They won’t tell why alot of sailors were ERB’d because the ONLY reason is over manning- joining the Navy was the biggest mistake of my husband’s life- But don’t worry, just like I supported him after every deployment that messed him up (physically & mentally), I will try and help him recover from this. Don’t thank me & my children, your words are meaningless and pathetic.

  12. Despite how you feel sometimes, and what you’d like to believe about military service… Despite the things that you tell yourself and each other… It’s a big cold machine run by gutless, brainless politicians. It’s full of great people. The best that you’ll ever meet in your life. Unfortunately, its personnel policies are the most clumsy and ineffective that you’ll ever see. You won’t understand or accept this ’til you’re done and the whole thing is a long way off in your rear view mirror. The ‘leadership’ runs the gamut from outstanding to embarrassing and there isn’t any consistency there. It’s makeup is determined through politics, ensuring ultimately that it will be garbage. Just remember that while we have the best military in the world, that only means that we suck less than the others. Hopefully for you, it was a job and an adventure. That’s more than a lot of people get. If you care about what you do, and most of you really, really do, this will hurt a lot. I’m truly sorry and I do appreciate what you did for the country, shipmates and friends. Let go, move on and use your good work ethic where it’s appreciated..

  13. I would seriously love to speak in person to the board that has chosen these sailors obviously they did not follow the guidelines that were set or know what the heck they were doing! It was more like they randomly selected names or just pushed a button on the computer to randomly choose! And they think it’s fair that we can not know WHY or what factors determined you being selected! Yeah I know the website states some guidelines but it’s very vague. Oh and when you call the number listed for erb information, no one that you speak to can answer any of the questions it’s always hold on let me see if I can get someone to help you or I’m not sure about that! This is the support we have? It leaves me thinking who really are these people they had on this board ruining peoples careers! How the hell can they sleep at night oh yea because they have their jobs! Why choose sailors that have put in 7-15 years these sailors for the most part the military is all they know, they have planned their futures and retirement around their military careers. I have a good answer for your military cut backs STOP recruiting or Why not go for the 18,19 year olds that just joined or the people that have less then 3 yrs in? They have a better chance of starting a new career! What about the 90 yr old that makes 150k a year that has served their 20 yrs and already have a great retirement check coming to them oh wait that was probably because they are the ones on  the board huh! Wow I can go on and on but I know it won’t help with these crooked people! The support groups and transition crap they say they have to help us is a bunch of bull it’s more or less said to make them look good to the public to make them look like they actually care! By the way any support they provide will not help anyways they are releasing 3000 more people to join the other millions without jobs! You know how hard it is to look into your 5 yr old sons blue eyes and tell him to enjoy this birthday and Christmas (2011) because there prolly won’t be another one like this for a while! Or when you enrolled  your children this yr for school  you did not know what to put as your address or childcare because you are about to loose both of those! What do you say when your son ask momma when they kick daddy out who’s going to protect us! It just shows you that this did not only affect the servicemember it affects their whole family. I WANT answers! I am so sick of having the door slammed in my face b/c I am the spouse not the member! I made just as many sacrifices as my husband! I was the one putting our crying children to bed while daddy was in Afghanistan, telling them it was going to be ok he will be back soon while fighting back my own tears praying that he does return safely! Having to hold down the family, bills, etc here alone by myself! Spending holidays, birthdays, anniversaries alone! Missing the last few months of my moms life before she passed because why the NAVY! And I did all this WHY?? Good luck and best wishes to all the families going through this! I thank each member and their families for the scarifies they made! To the people in charge of this God bless you and I hope you meet my friend karma soon! America I would be worried you now have all these inexperienced kids protecting you! 

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