By Admiral Mark Ferguson
Vice Chief of Naval Operations
Shipmates, I want to take a few moments to provide context on my recent announcement to adjust Navy flag officer billets to align with statutory and Office of the Secretary of Defense policy.
Earlier this year, I announced the initial 35 flag officer billets scheduled for elimination. The latest round of changes reduces, eliminates, or consolidates additional flag officer billets. All of these changes will be phased as incumbent officers transfer or retire. But this doesn’t mean the office or command will be entirely eliminated. The billet will either be merged with another flag officer, downgraded to an O6 position, shifted to a civilian position, or filled by a recalled reservist.
What does this do for the Navy in the long run? It reduces the number of active duty flag officers while maintaining flag leadership in our most critical positions. It also reverses growth in the flag community that occurred over the last 13 years. Our goal remains to operate more efficiently and effectively while strengthening our warfighting capabilities.
These changes are scheduled to be implemented by March 2016. When complete, the Navy will be allocated 151 flag officers for Navy-specific billets and 64 Navy flag officers for joint billets.
The overall Flag billet plan balances these adjustments across all officer communities, including Line, Restricted Line and Staff Corps. It also enables the Navy to provide more stability and predictability in the flag officer promotion process while meeting statutory requirements.
While some flag officer billets are being disestablished, phased out, or downgraded to O6 billets, other flag officer billets are being established or upgraded to meet new requirements. This plan establishes a new Navy Surface Warfare Development Command and upgrades Commander, Navy Cyber Command to a two-star billet. The latter will lead a newly established Information Dominance Forces Command, the Echelon II type commander for the Information Dominance Corps. It also upgrades PEO Air Anti-Submarine Warfare, Assault and Special Mission Programs (PEO-A) to a two-star position that is more in line with the scope of responsibility for the billet and helps balance the acquisition corps billet structure.
We are also shifting two billets to be filled by recalled Reservists. Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet will transition from an active duty Rear Adm. (upper half) to a recalled reservist of the same rank; and Commander, Naval Supply Systems Command for Global Logistics Support will transition from an active duty Rear Adm. (lower half) to a recalled reservist of the same rank.
Shifting these two flag billets to the Reserve Force is a reflection of their significant contribution to combat operations, their operational expertise, and their integrated service with the active duty component.
As warfare requirements evolve, we will continue to assess our flag officer billet structure while seeking opportunities to further integrate our Reserve and Active Duty components.