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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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