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Navy Force Balancing

Our Navy has felt the effects of more Sailors in certain ratings wanting to stay in, while some other key ratings experienced under manning. Force structure changes and decisions were required to meet changing platforms and manning requirements. Therefore, in order 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 including the Enlisted Retention Board. Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk talks about the board process that was followed to ensure fairness.

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These actions have resulted in greater retention approvals in Perform to Serve and expected improvements in advancement opportunity and promotions. Based on what we now know, we will not need to hold another ERB in this year or in fiscal year 2013 or 2014.  Ideally, we will never have to conduct another ERB.  Additionally, our past efforts to balance the officer corps resulted in the need to conduct a selective early retirement (SER) board for only two communities this year, the supply corps and the oceanographic community. We will continue to update and review our force management actions with a focus on ensuring the Fleet has the right balance of seniority, skills and experience to meet our mission, now and into the future.

Because I’ve received many questions about the topic of the ERB process, I’d like to take a few moments and walk you through how each record was reviewed and how the decision to retain or separate was reached.

Within each board phase, there were two portions: a quota portion, and a non-quota portion. For the quota portion of the board, records were reviewed by two board members and were ranked highest to lowest and then deliberated for retention quotas.  The slate of eligible candidates selected for retention, and the slate for those who would not be retained, were then briefed to the board members for vote.  Sailors who submitted conversion requests were then considered for conversion to undermanned ratings.

In the non-quota portion, Sailors’ records were reviewed by two board members for substandard or marginal performance indicators, as outlined in the board precept.  Retention was presumed for records without such performance indicators.  Sailors with a negative indicator were reviewed against the “gold standard” listed in the precept.  Then, the slate of eligible candidates selected for retention, and the slate of those who would not be retained, were briefed to the board members prior to the board’s vote.

Because the selection was partly quota-driven, good Sailors with no performance issues competed against their peers in rating, paygrade and years of service. This meant some high-quality Sailors were not selected for retention.  Also, because our board members took an oath of confidentiality, this means we cannot provide Sailors specifics on why the board chose them for separation.  I know both of these factors are troubling for our Sailors, and their family members.  I want to stress that the Navy’s board process is one of the most fair, equitable and unprejudiced systems we have in place, and our board members were dedicated to performing their responsibilities with the utmost commitment to this standard.

The Chief of Naval Operations’ Sailing Directions call on the Navy to operate forward. Sailors who make the decision to take operational jobs will be recognized. Sustained superior performance at sea remains our primary performance benchmark. We will continue to look for opportunity to better man the Fleet to meet its demanding mission sets.  The Voluntary Sea Duty Program, rolled out last month, is a prime example of how we will continue to adapt and posture ourselves for the future.

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