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Navy to trim a handful of officers from its rolls

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Navy announced this week that it will force an estimated 19 commanders and captains to retire this year, a move that comes as the service continues to separate thousands of enlisted sailors involuntarily.

Two captains and three commanders from the oceanography community, and 14 commanders from the supply corps will likely be told to retire when the board convenes in July, according a Feb. 7 Naval Personnel Command memo. Each of these officers in the O-5 and O-6 pay grades will come from the staff and restricted line officer groups, the memo stated. Restricted line officers may hold similar duties to unrestricted line officers, but are not eligible for command at sea.

“Considerations in determining where retirement is in the best interest of the Navy will include leadership, integrity and proven and sustained superior performance in critical billets,” the memo stated.

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The board will be the only one of its kind in 2012. Last year, the board selected more than 120 officers for early retirement. Those officers must retire by September.

The Navy cited high retention in the two communities as the reason for the cuts, a problem it has experienced throughout the enlisted corps in recent years.

However, as the Navy continues to pare down its forces, it is steadily increasing the ratio of officers to enlisted sailors.

Between 2005 and 2010, the overall enlisted force shrank by 11.2 percent, but the total number of officers and midshipmen fell only half of one percentage point, according to data obtained by Stars and Stripes from the Navy. Figures for 2011 were not immediately available.

“There is no target ratio that we move toward,” said Rear Adm. Anthony Kurta, the Navy’s director of personnel plans and policy, during a Stars and Stripes interview last year. “We respond to fleet demand … both on enlisted side and officer side.”

In November, the Navy announced the involuntary separation of approximately 3,000 enlisted sailors in 31 ratings, citing overmanning and high retention.

Some sailors who are being forced to separate have questioned the retention board’s decisions and lack of transparency.

Navy officials have said they will not hold another enlisted retention board this year, though the Perform to Serve program will still be used to pare down the ranks for sailors with less than 14 years of service.

slavine@pstripes.osd.mil

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