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Navy unlikely to convene another enlisted retention board

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Navy does not expect to target sailors in overmanned job ratings for separation in 2013, officials from the Navy Personnel Command’s fleet engagement team told sailors Tuesday.

Officers speaking with a few dozen sailors who are being involuntarily separated from the Navy by Sept. 1 said they were not anticipating a repeat of the enlisted retention board, though other force-cutting programs, such as Perform to Serve, are expected to remain.

“That’s the outlook right now, we’re not planning for another [enlisted retention board],” said Capt. Steve Holmes, enlisted community manager for the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

The Navy instituted the retention board and other force-cutting measures in the face of mounting budgetary pressures, while simultaneously experiencing an ongoing decline in voluntary retirements and separations since 2005. The board, which convened last year, separated 2,947 sailors with seven to 15 years of service between the ranks of E-4 and E-8, in 31 job ratings.

Of the 15,386 sailors whose records were reviewed by the board last year, about 19 percent were involuntarily separated, according to Tuesday’s presentation.

Another 130 sailors who would have been separated were able to change jobs, while another 206 sailors tried to change jobs but had their applications denied.

Sailors were considered by the board under the following criteria: declining job performance, substandard work, detachment for cause, nonjudicial or more severe punishment, loss of security clearance and misconduct. If a sailor’s record included one of those factors, but the sailor was outstanding in some other way, an 80 percent affirmative vote by the board was required for retention.

The board has come under criticism by some in the Navy for using misconduct that may have occurred early in a sailor’s otherwise credible career as grounds for separation from the service.

On Tuesday, Navy officials tried to encourage the sailors about to lose their jobs by discussing separation benefits and job placement services they are entitled to use.

Overseas sailors separated by the board will be able to return to the United States for job and house hunting for a minimum of 60 days before separation, said Capt. Kate Janac, enlisted retention board coordinator for the chief of naval operations.

Sailors will also have commissary and exchange privileges for two years after leaving the Navy, as well as access to counseling, child care and other services for a limited time after separation.

Before leaving the Navy, they will receive job placement and preparation services from the international firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

“This is what we think is going to be the key to your success,” Janac said.

The fleet engagement team will speak with sailors at Naval Air Facility Atsugi on Wednesday, before heading to bases in Hawaii and the continental United States.

slavine@pstripes.osd.mil

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