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The Navy has merged two more career fields for enlisted personnel, joining postal clerks and storekeepers into the newly created logistics specialist, or LS, rating. Gone will be the postal designator with the postal cancellation mark logo. The storekeeper rating badge will be retained to represent the new rating.

The merger, approved by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughhead, was outlined in a message Monday to the fleet.

"As an element of the Navy’s total force strategy, this merger will capitalize on the knowledge, skills, and abilities found in the two ratings and apply them toward a unified mission," the message reads. "Merging the SK and PC ratings will improve efficiency and support optimal manning. Anticipated benefits are reduced infrastructure costs and improved customer service and quality of life for sailors."

The conversion goes into effect Oct. 1, 2009, for active-duty sailors, and six months later for reservists.

For Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Mestres, a postal clerk at the Navy support site in Naples, Italy, trading one rating badge for another comes with mixed feelings.

"I’ll miss the postal rating badge, since we’ll be switching to the storekeeper badge. But I think the merger will be good for us because it will result in a better opportunity for advancement," said Mestres, who has 15 years in the Navy. "There were a lot more promotions for SKs than for PCs (at the E-6 level) during the last advancement cycle."

While the Navy has created some new ratings, such as the explosive ordnance disposal, Navy diver, special warfare operator and special warfare boat operator ratings in 2006, the trend over the past few years has been toward reducing the number of enlisted ratings by merging similar skill requirements into single career ratings.

In 2004, the Navy merged personnelman and disbursing clerks into a single rating. A year later it approved the merger of journalists, photographers mates, lithographers and illustrator/draftsman ratings into the new mass-communications specialist rating.

Other recent mergers include gunner’s mates with torpedoman, information systems technicians with cryptologic technicians, and cryptologic technician administration with yeoman.

Other mergers are under consideration, including joining eight engineering specialties into three ratings.

The proposal for this merger is on hold, and will be re-evaluated in fiscal 2010, according to the Navy.

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