Navy Slates Early Retirement Boards for O-5’s and O-6’s


NORFOLK, Va. — The Navy has scheduled selective early retirement boards for O-5’s and O-6’s for the second year in a row.

Navy officials estimate 2,500 captains and commanders will get a look by one of next month’s two boards. The  commander’s board starts Sept. 11. The captain’s board follows on Sept. 20.

Each board’s mandate is simple — recommend retirement for only non-performing officers.  The boards has no targets numbers to cut. That’s how SER boards worked in the past.

Today’s Navy is growing.  Navy leadership now encourages experienced officers to stay longer, keeping needed skills and experience in the ranks.

As a result, personnel officials see the reviews as a “quality check” of those still serving, to ensure their conduct and performance still measure up.

“Reviewing records and selecting officers for early retirement ensures the Navy will have a professional, healthy senior officer corps,” wrote Vice Adm. John B. Nowell, the Navy’s top uniformed personnel official in NavAdmin message 189/19 released earlier this month.

This is the second year for this new type of selective early retirement panel in the officer corps. It is not, however, new concept in the Navy.

Personnel quality assurance reviews started in the senior enlisted ranks. Chief petty officers are screened by identical boards. Held seven of the last nine years, these boards have retired three percent of those reviewed.

“Our junior officers and enlisted sailors deserve the best senior officers to emulate and lead them,” Nowell wrote.

Last year’s board screened 2,136 officers in 41 competitive categories for signs of declining performance or proven misconduct. Only 33 officers were retired, 1.5 percent of those reviewed

“The majority of eligible officers whose records will be considered by the SER boards are fully capable of performing the duties of their current grade,” Nowell wrote.  “Selecting zero officers in a competitive category is an acceptable outcome.”

To be “eligible” for the board captains must have three years in grade as of the date the board meets. Commanders have failed to select for captain at least twice.

In both paygrades the officers must fall into specific “year groups” of service as laid out in the message.  A year group is normally the year an officer first entered active service.

For those eligible for the review, there’s only two ways to stop it – get selected by a board for promotion, or already be slated to retire.

Having been cleared by last year’s board doesn’t give you a free pass, either. That would have been the case under the old style SER board rules.  Now, the Navy has been given permission to waive the rule that prevents such retirement reviews more than once in a five year period.

The board screens officer records by competitive group. For commanders this year there’s 20 groups listed in the message and 22 for captains.

What the board is looking for, Nowell wrote, are issues with “performance, the requirement for
exemplary conduct, and adverse information.”

Records with issues are reviewed by the full board. It takes a majority vote of the entire panel to give the officer a retirement recommendation.

Consequently, personnel officials recommend officers screen their own records before any selection board.

Any officer who thinks something needs explanation can communicate that to the board in writing. Any correspondence, however, must conform to same communication rules in place for promotion boards.

Officers being forced to retire will be notified once Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer has approved the board’s findings.

Those not continued and already retirement eligible must leave the ranks no later than May 1, 2020. Those not yet eligible to retire can stay until the first day of the month they can officially retire.

More details can be found here.

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