The following correction to this story was posted September 8, 2006: A Sept 8 story on Navy incentives should have said that award points count toward promotions but are not required for advancement. Also, the incentives are expected to be rolled out over the next several months, but no firm effective date has been established.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy plans to announce several incentives for sailors serving on the ground in combat zones, said Capt. Kelly McDowell, part of a task force focusing on individual augmentees.

The Navy is still working out eligibility for any incentives, Navy officials said.

More than 11,000 sailors are serving on the ground in the 26 countries under U.S. Central Command’s responsibility, of which more than 8,500 are serving as augmentees for ground forces, said Navy spokesman Lt. Trey Brown.

The changes were prompted after Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen “got an earful” from individual augmentees about their personal and professional concerns during a trip to Iraq, McDowell said.

Effective March 7, 2007, the incentives are meant to reward sailors who have taken on tough assignments, he said.

Under one incentive, enlisted sailors from E-3 to E-6 would receive two award points toward a promotion for serving 179 days or more on the ground in combat zones, McDowell said.

Sailors from E-3 to E-5 need 10 award points to advance to the next rank, and E-6 sailors need 12 award points to advance, he said.

Another incentive would allow sailors from E-3 to E-6 to take their advancement exams before or after completing their tours downrange, McDowell said.

Eligible sailors also could receive back-pay if they miss an exam cycle while deployed in a designated combat zone and advance after their tour is completed, he said.

Other incentives specifically target individual augmentees, who unlike other deployed sailors are pulled from their normal jobs to support the war on terrorism, Navy officials said.

Most augmentees are reservists, Brown said.

One incentive would allow individual augmentees — both officers and enlisted sailors — to count their time downrange toward their shore duty, McDowell said.

For example, sailors who serve one year in a combat zone can request that they get an extra year of shore duty, while those sailors deployed in a noncombat zone can request an extra six months of shore duty, he said.

Neither enlisted sailors nor officers are required to take the extra shore duty, he added.

Other incentives: Individual augmentees can decide which coast in the continental United States they can serve on after completing their tour; and the government would pay the moving expenses of augmentee’s families who move while their loved one is deployed, McDowell said.

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