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ARLINGTON, Va. — Navy officials anticipate between 400 and 600 sailors will use the service’s Early Transition Program, which lets eligible sailors separate up to 12 months earlier than planned.

The program has been changed since being introduced last year, and will let sailors separate a year early, rather than six months.

About 560 sailors took advantage of the program last year, said Lt. j.g. Kyle Raines, a spokesman for Navy Personnel Command.

“We want all of our good sailors to stick around and stay Navy … and this is really designed for those who have jobs or educational opportunities lined up, and we’re giving them the opportunity to fill those personal goals a year earlier,” Raines said.

The program is not available to sailors under a selective re-enlistment bonus or in a rating that is SRB eligible, or in who are SEALs (Sea, Air and Land), explosive ordnance disposal, divers or Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman, or in a nuclear rating.

“Of the sailors in those special categories, the reasoning they’re not eligible is because they are in critical or undermanned ratings, or because we offered them SRBs for re-enlisting,” Raines said.

Sailors can submit requests, going through their chain of command, to Navy Personnel Command. All separations under the program must be effected by Sept. 15.

For the most part, officials anticipate mostly first-termers will take advantage, Raines said. “They make up the largest percentage of people getting out of the Navy anyway, and frankly, the longer you’re in, the longer likely to stay.”

“For sailors with impending educational or civilian career plans, this program could offer just the extra time and opportunity they need to get started on a new life,” Vice Adm. Gerry Hoewing, chief of Naval Personnel, said in a statement. “I am delighted that this great retention we are continuing to experience has allowed us to offer the program again this year.”

As of June, the Navy was on pace to retain 59.6 percent of eligible sailors in Zone A, or those with less than six years of service, for fiscal 2004. The goal is 56 percent. In Zone B (those with six to 10 years of service) the pace is 73.2 percent, above the target of 70 percent.

The percentages do not count those whose applications have yet to be processed, Raines said.

If the Navy surpasses its retention goals, officials could adjust recruitment goals to keep personnel numbers in check.

— More information found in Navy message NAVADMIN 151/04, and available at:

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