The average time for an enlisted service member to become a Navy chief is 13 years. On the officer side, less than half of all commanders ever make it to captain, even after serving 21 or more years. But now, the Navy will begin filling these positions with civilians who possess specialized skills. The only requirement will be to make it through boot camp.
This decision stems from the military's plan to recruit mid-career specialists to manage areas like cyber warfare, where the best operators glean their formative experience from the private sector.
“Right now the one we’re focused on is the cyber because that’s the immediate need,” Vice Adm. Robert Burke, chief of naval personnel told Navy Times. “But we want this authority in place ... because we want to be responsive when the need comes — we don’t want to start writing policy the minute we discover we need it.”
In an email, Chief of Naval Personnel spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said, “The Department of Defense, through its Force of the Future initiative, has requested that Congress expand lateral entry authority for officers.”
As it stands, candidates can be brought in up to the O-3 or O-4 level on a need basis. And medical specialties can be brought in up to the O-5 if the Navy has a shortage in a certain occupational specialty — assuming that officer candidate has experience and gets an approval waiver from the Secretary of the Navy.
Now, "we're seeking the authority to bring somebody in at the E-7 level or up to the O-6 level,” Burke said.
On the enlisted side, Navy policy already allows sailors to enter in up to the E-6 level, but it is limited to musicians.
However, there isn’t just a question of whether the Navy needs to be able to recruit mid-career specialists, but how lateral entry will impact the overall force structure.
The greatest challenge to altering the lateral entry rules may be persuading career-long Navy officers and enlistees to accept ranking members whose only military experience is boot camp.
It is yet to be seen how enlistees and officers who have spent years serving in the military would respond to the authority of an E-7 or an O-6 that has no prior military background, and has been recruited for this job based on private sector experience instead of working to rise through the ranks as they have.
When asked about potential shortcomings regarding the integration of mid-level specialists, however, Christensen said, “Not sure what you mean about shortcomings.”
As of now, the Navy does not have any detailed implementation plans, but could put this into effect as soon as October, pending Congressional approval.
“We are not assuming anything,” Christensen added. ”That said, we would like to have the authority in order to use it, if needed, to meet critical skills.”
NEWPORT — The explosion and sinking of the ship in 1943 claimed at least 1,138 lives, and while the sea swallowed the bones there were people, too, who also worked to shroud the bodies.
The sinking of the H.M.T. Rohna was the greatest loss of life at sea by enemy action in the history of U.S. war, but the British Admiralty demanded silence from the survivors and the tragedy was immediately classified by the U.S. War Department.
Michael Walsh of Newport is working to bring the story of the Rohna to the surface with a documentary film, which includes interviews with some of the survivors of the attack. Walsh has interviewed about 45 men who were aboard the ship when it was hit.
Editor's note: this story originally appeared in 2018
How you die matters. Ten years ago, on Memorial Day, I was in Fallujah, serving a year-long tour on the staff and conducting vehicle patrols between Abu Ghraib and Ramadi. That day I attended a memorial service in the field. It was just one of many held that year in Iraq, and one of the countless I witnessed over my 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Like many military veterans, Memorial Day is not abstract to me. It is personal; a moment when we remember our friends. A day, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth."