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Navy wants seasoned officers for specialized career paths

Jun. 20, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Operations planners with 4th Fleet inspect an unmanned vehicle before tests aboard the high-speed vessel Swift in Key West, Fla., in April. Operational planning is one of 10 specialty career paths with openings for officers.
Operations planners with 4th Fleet inspect an unmanned vehicle before tests aboard the high-speed vessel Swift in Key West, Fla., in April. Operational planning is one of 10 specialty career paths with openings for officers. (Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker/Navy)
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A lieutenant commander operates the radar system control aboard the cruiser Lake Erie during a ballistic-missile defense drill. Officers seeking to concentrate on missile-defense duties, or similar fields, may be eligible to embark on a specialized career path. (MC2 Michael Hight/Navy)

WHO’S ELIGIBLE

Officers may apply for up to two specialty career paths; applications are due at Navy Personnel Command by June 21. For more information, see NAVADMIN 148/13. Eligibility based on community:
Surface warfare. You are eligible if you’ve completed your second department head tour or are at least 18 months into a 36-month single, longer department tour.
Submarine. You are eligible if you’ve already received your final look for executive officer.
Naval special warfare/explosive ordnance disposal. No eligibility for this board.
Pilot/naval flight officer. You are eligible if you’ve completed a department head tour; or if you’ve failed to be selected for a department head tour for the second time; or upon opting out of department-head selection.
Tell us
Would you consider pursuing a specialty career path? How can the Navy make these critical jobs more appealing to sailors? Send your thoughts to navylet@navytimes.com; include your rank/rate and hometown/duty station, and your letter could appear in an upcoming print edition of Navy Times.

Most unrestricted line officers start their careers with the idea of at-sea command in their heads. But not everyone is cut out for (or wants) that ultimate sea-duty job. And the Navy doesn't want to lose their experience and expertise.

Most unrestricted line officers start their careers with the idea of at-sea command in their heads. But not everyone is cut out for (or wants) that ultimate sea-duty job. And the Navy doesn't want to lose their experience and expertise.

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MILLINGTON, TENN. — Most unrestricted line officers start their careers with the idea of at-sea command in their heads. But not everyone is cut out for (or wants) that ultimate sea-duty job. And the Navy doesn’t want to lose their experience and expertise.

With that in mind, the fleet wants warfare-qualified officers to take alternate career paths, becoming technical experts in “key Navy mission areas,” according to the Navy’s top personnel officer. Interested officers can apply for the Navy’s ninth-annual Specialty Career Path Board, but need to act fast. Applications are only open until June 21.

The board considers unrestricted line officers willing to convert into one of 10 specialized tracks that give these officers the chance to become technical experts, adding additional qualification designators while keeping their original ones.

“The SCP program provides alternatives to the traditional command at sea career path and supports the demand for URL control grade expertise in growing and expanding mission areas,” said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk in the message announcing the board.

“The SCP program has proven to be a successful initiative and has provided the Navy with a cadre of officers with critical skills in key Navy mission areas.”

Before the service created these alternate careers, many officers — as many as 200 a year in the surface warfare community alone — left their war-fighting specialty and converted into restricted line communities as their only option.

In the early 2000s, that community realized it was bleeding this expertise; in 2004, it announced the creation of the first five specialty career paths.

The program doubled in size in 2010 to include all unrestricted line communities. All the career paths were developed to provide the officers making the switch with increasing levels of responsibility with each new assignment.

For example, an officer transitioning to the shore installation management career path may expect a career that includes tours as a department head and an executive officer of a naval base; assignment to regional command staffs; assignment to the Navy Installations Command staff, and O-5/O-6 tours at naval bases and installations.

And while these sailors won’t pursue at-sea command, they can achieve commanding and/or executive officer-equivalent billets in each specialty, giving them the chance to advance with their peers still in the traditional warfare billets.

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