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July 16, 2015 / iDriveWarships

New Surface Warfare Officer Career Chart Launched by PERS-41

Surface Warfare (Officer)

“Your careers will be defined by flexibility, transparency, and choice…”

“Whether we are talking about systems and tactics in the digital age or personnel management, we must evolve to meet the needs of the future battle space and the needs of our people. Today we shift from ‘what-ifs’ to ‘what’s next’…”

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus

U.S. Naval Academy Address

May 12, 2015

By Capt. Brad Cooper, Surface Warfare Officer Lead Detailer, PERS-41

Today, the Surface Warfare community is going active and shifting into “what’s next”… we are launching the new “SWO Career Chart.” Click here to check it out! 

Here are 12 things you should know:
1) WE HAVE EYE-WATERING TALENT in SURFACE WARFARE. Today, we are stepping out strongly… LEADING the Navy and, for that matter, the entire U.S. military… in a priority effort to retain that talent.

2) WHAT’S NEW?… an OPTION-BASED, FLEXIBLE, AGILE, CAREER underscored by OPPORTUNITIES emerging from Sailor 2025 initiatives: a restructured bonus proposal that REWARDS PERFORMANCE; and pro-active OUTREACH to RETAIN TALENT. Junior officers and their families have different tracks on the SWO career chart available to them. This effort builds on current policies that have served us well.

— Under our new approach, Commanding Officers (CO’s) and Junior Officers (JO’s) are more empowered to influence the future and leverage new opportunities in graduate education, personal growth and career flexibility.

— Among the new options: going to Naval Postgraduate School after the First Division Officer tour… earning a Master’s degree in a skillset we value… then returning to sea for a Second Division Officer tour… then to Department Head School.

3) THIS IS ABOUT WARFIGHTING FIRST. Enabled through: a focus on our people; recognition of superior performance; development of skillsets early; and accruing experience at sea (we refer to this as: WUK – “Water Under the Keel”). Investing in and retaining our most talented officers is critical to operating, fighting and winning in tomorrow’s complex environments… and we’re backing up words with action. Growing Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTIs) is a priority. This program will continue to expand under Navy Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) leadership.

4) MYTH-BUSTER ON JO RETENTION… BLUF: We are retaining sufficient numbers of SWO JO’s to meet our Department Head billet demand and we’ve done it for four consecutive year groups … and on track for a fifth! On the waterfront, you see the positive effect of this every day. Kudos across the board to everybody who has invested their energy into getting us where we are today… and now… it’s time to raise the talent bar of those leading at sea even higher !!

5)  And so… WE ARE CHANGING A CULTURAL MINDSET. Away from …”retaining the most willing” … and toward … “retaining the most talented.” This is a BIG DEAL!


GROW WARRIOR-SCHOLARS. We embrace every opportunity to send our most talented officers to study at America’s most prestigious academic institutions (we’re not just talking about this, we’re doing it — the first officer begins his Masters Degree program at Yale University this Fall).  Guidance is forthcoming for those officers who want to compete and start studies in the Fall of 2016! Starting in 2016, we will send officers to learn and contribute at Fortune 500 companies throughout our country under the new SECNAV Industry Tour Program.

INSTITUTE MORE ADAPTIVE WORKFORCE POLICIES. We will lead the Navy in supporting officers’ desire to take a career intermission for up to 3 years as a means to pursue personal interests, then return to our Navy and serve even stronger than before. We are firmly committed to military spouse co-location as the standard – not the exception. Our commitment to our people is further reinforced by the recent Maternity Leave policy expansion from 6 to 18 weeks.

7)  TALENTED DEPARTMENT HEADS ARE DIFFERENCE-MAKERS… so we are raising the bar on what it takes to serve as a Department Head at sea. For the last 20 years, we had little-to-no selectivity. This year, we increased Department Head selectivity by lowering the selection rate to 80%. In 2016, we expect the screening rate for first look to be 50-60%. By doing so, we will clearly select our BEST junior officers to serve as future Department Heads, Commanding Officers and Major Commanders.

8)  WE ARE CHANGING THE SWO JO BONUS MODEL. SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE IS WHAT COUNTS — and WE WILL REWARD IT. This is not about money … we know that talented officers don’t stay for the money… this is about recognizing and rewarding performance. Once approved, a new JO bonus structure will provide First Look-Department Head screened officers with the opportunity for up to $105,000 in bonuses ($30,000 above the existing bonus, which will continue) to serve two Department Head tours or through their tenth year of commissioned service, whichever is later.  The new bonus proposal will pay officers sooner in exchange for signing up earlier. Officers who successfully screen on ensuing looks will also be eligible for bonuses above today’s $75,000 package rates, but at an incrementally reduced rate.

9)  LAUNCHING A DELIBERATE OUTREACH INITIATIVE … we’ve modeled the talent and performance of our JOs using a simple formula that weighs FITREPs and qualifications. We know who the top 50% of performers are. In the coming weeks, we will be communicating with CO’s and JO’s… starting with Year Group 2012 … and targeting the top 50% of that year group. The goal is simple: retain our TOP TALENT!

10) POSITIONING FOR THE FUTURE. Positive changes to the statutory board process are on the horizon and new “market based” detailing pilots have been approved. Our career chart positions us to embrace these changes to the benefit of our people. Specifically, we are:

— Working to replace traditional zones to ensure the best officers are promoted regardless of zone placement and prior selection board decisions.

— Supporting legislation that would eliminate officer management by year group to ensure performance determines timeline and eligibility for promotion and leadership assignments. The legislation would allow those who are not ready for promotion to continue to serve in the same paygrade longer, or for those ready, to advance through the system faster.

11) STRAIGHT TALK: SUBSTANDARD PERFORMANCE DOESN’T CUT IT.  We’ll put a rocket on the backs of our best performers … and propel those officers to new heights as those officers achieve their absolute maximum potential…. but … we will no longer accept substandard performers in Surface Warfare. The last Department Head board de-screened 39 officers whose performance did not warrant serving at sea as a Department Head. Starting w/Year Group 2012 officers, we will reach out to the bottom 10% of officers by communicating to them via their Commanding Officers.  This communication will serve notice that substandard performance is not acceptable … that it’s time to step up your game… or step out of Surface Warfare. No apologies here. We need TALENT leading our Sailors at sea.

12) We are GOING GLOBAL! In the coming weeks, we will travel to every Fleet Concentration area, Newport and Washington, D.C to brief this plan. The plan will also be briefed at the U.S. Naval Academy and to every NROTC unit in America starting this Fall.  We will also pursue opportunities to virtually connect with SWOs serving throughout the country in locations and assignments not listed above.

“What’s next?…” the time is right now! I am excited for our future and I know you are, as well!

#DoGreatThings! … #MakeUsProud!


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