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Officer Professional Development Paths
By  law,  the  Navy’s  promotion  system  is vacancy-driven. Annually, promotion planners on the  CNO’s  staff  develop  plans  to  determine  the projected need (or vacancies) for officers in each grade within each of the competitive categories. The development of these plans starts the promo- tion  system  cycle,  within  which  are  three  major elements:  promotion  opportunity,  selection  for promotion,   and   promotion. PROMOTION   OPPORTUNITY Obviously,  all  officers  can’t  reach  the top  of  the  pyramid.  However,  they  all  have the   same   promotion   opportunity   as   their contemporaries   in   their   competitive   category. Promotion  opportunity  is  the  product  of  three factors:  authorized  officer  strength,  promotion flow  point,  and  promotion  percentage. The Navy’s authorized officer strength is the total  number  of  officers  authorized  to  be  in  the Navy  at  the  end  of  each  fiscal  year.  Since  the authorized  officer  strength  sets  a  limit  on  how many  officers  the  Navy  may  have  each  year,  it affects  the  number  of  promotions  that  can  be made. Promotion  flow  point  is  a  predetermined number  of  years  of  commissioned  service  at which  most  officers  would  be  promoted  to  the next  higher  grade.  The  first  step  in  promotion opportunity is based on how many vacancies are expected  in  each  grade  in  each  competitive category. This step determines the size of the selec- tion  zone,  commonly  referred  to  as  “in  zone.” If the CNO’s promotion planners foresee a need to fill 300 captain vacancies in the unrestricted line (URL)  and  a  promotion  opportunity  of  50  per- cent  is  desired,  then  the  zone  must  include  600 URL   commanders. SELECTION  FOR  PROMOTION Annually,  SECNAV  convenes  promotion boards  for  each  competitive  category  to  select active-duty   officers   and   inactive-duty   Reserve officers  for  promotion.  They  are  selected  for promotions  to  the  grades  of  chief  warrant officer  (CWO-3),  chief  warrant  officer  (CWO-4), lieutenant,  lieutenant  commander,  commander, captain,  rear  admiral  (lower),  and  rear  admiral (upper).   Chief   warrant   officer   (CWO-2)   and ensign  are  commissioning  grades;  commanding officers   determine   the   promotion   of   officers under their command to lieutenant junior grade. Officers  above  the  grade  of  captain  are  appointed, not  promoted,  by  the  President  of  the  United States to the grade of admiral and vice admiral. Selection   boards   are   composed   of   officers characterized  by  their  high  quality  of  perform- ance, maturity, judgment, naval background, and experience. SECNAV normally assigns the senior member as president of the board. Each member subscribes  to  an  oath  to  consider  all  eligible officers without partiality and to recommend for promotion   only   those   officers   who   are   best qualified. The board cannot exceed the number of selec- tions   provided   for   in   SECNAV’s   precept.   For example, if 100 officers are in zone and SECNAV requires a 70 percent promotion percentage, the board  cannot  select  more  than  70  officers  for promotion.  It  may  reach  “below  zone”  and choose  for  early  promotion  up  to  10  percent  (or 15  percent  with  SECDEF  approval)  of  the  total number  of  officers  selected.  If,  in  the  above example, the board selects 10 officers from below zone, it can select only 60 officers from in zone. (Each   officer   normally   gets   two   “looks”   from below  zone  before  entering  in  zone.)  The  board also  may  select  “above  zone”  officers;  that  is, those who were considered by a promotion board in  a  previous  year  but  weren’t  selected. PROMOTION Once  the  board  concludes  its  deliberations  and assembles its promotion list, several events must occur  in  the  following  order  before  an  officer actually gets promoted to the next higher grade: Chief of Naval Personnel, Judge Advocate General,  and  Chief  of  Naval  Operations review the list. SECNAV  reviews  the  list. SECNAV   publishes   the   list   for   chief warrant  officer,  lieutenant,  lieutenant commander,  commander,  and  captain  in an  ALNAV  (all  Navy)  message.  The ALNAV   message   lists   the   names   of selectees in alphabetical order and shows an  officer’s  relative  seniority  among selectees  within  each  competitive  category. Officers in the same competitive category maintain relative seniority throughout their careers.  Changes  occur  only  if  an  officer is selected for early promotion or fails to be  selected  for  promotion. 3-13

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