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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy has announced a series of changes in how enlisted sailors serving on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa can take their advancement exams.

The changes affect both active-duty and Reserve E-4 through E-7 candidates, a recent Navywide message says. Sailors serving in Kuwait and Bahrain are not affected.

Navy officials said 252 E-4 candidates are currently in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, along with 658 E-5 candidates, 872 E-6 candidates, and between 550 and 830 E-7 candidates.

One change gives commanding officers the authority to allow individual sailors to take the advancement exams instead of having an entire unit do so, the officials said in an e-mailed response to questions Friday.

“This gives CO’s who have a wide variety of sailors, with varying levels of active missions to support, the flexibility to give the exam to only those sailors that have the time and resources to take the exam while allowing those sailors with greater operational commitments or lack of resources the chance to take the exam later,” officials said.

In another move, the Navy has waived the advancement exam for all eligible E-7 candidates in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, officials said.

“Becoming a CPO [Chief Petty Officer] is a two-step process — becoming selection board eligible and being chosen by the board,” officials said. “We have waived only the initial step to ensure these E-7 candidates will continue to have a fair opportunity for advancement.”

The Navy has also spelled out that officers in charge of a command, not a detachment, can authorize individual sailors to take the advancement exams in country if conditions permit, the Navy message said.

The message reiterates that commands are “highly recommended” giving sailors the option of taking advancement exams either before or after the scheduled dates.

Earlier this year, the Navy announced that sailors had the option of taking the advancement exams in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa.

Some commands thought they were required to administer the exam as scheduled instead of offering substitute exams that are not tied to the exam date, officials said.

“This time around, we specifically emphasized the original intent which was to provide maximum flexibility to in-theater commands,” officials said. “The option of the regular exam is still there, but we think it will be much easier for commands to order the substitute exam and administer it whenever is best suited for them.”

For more information, see Navy Administrative Message [NAVADMIN] 336/07 at: www.npc.navy.mil

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