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Huge spot advancement expansion is underway

Navy Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus wants to radically boost the number of sailors spot advanced — a revamp that would have far-reaching effects. says he's willing to put as many as 13,400 petty officer advancements in the hands of Navy commanding officers as soon as next fiscal year.

Now, it's up to fleet and soon all commands to execute.

What Mabus has proposed that as much as is a revolution in advancements that if fully realized, could mean that nearly a quarter of annual E-4, E-5 and E-6 advancements could come from from spot meritorious advancements. It would be a huge expansion of the Command Advancement Program, where skippers pick the sailors who make rank — no test needed. on the deckplates — allowing the best performing sailors to bypass the semiannual exam cycle.

"Leaders who consistently outperform their peers should be advanced at faster rates, not held back by tests or zones," Mabus told graduating Naval Academy midshipmen on May 13.

But Whether this proposed change will take root in the Navy and truly change the Navy's Enlisted Advancement System will only become evident in the near future if CO's truly take up Navy leadership's offer and advance their best people first. actively cull their people and advance those they feel are ready for the next level of duty and responsibility.

"So we will begin adjusting Navy enlisted advancements this year by replacing the Command Advancement Program with a Meritorious Advancement Program, or MAP, that allows commanding officers to petition for more of these advancements, or to surrender unused ones," Mabus said.

Mabus said he wants to expand these spot advancements it's more than just a name change that Mabus is proposing, he's talking about expanding the number of quotas well beyond CAP's current limits, including to shore commands of the current CAP — and also extending the ability to spot advance to shore commands — something the service talked about but never done, save for a few special commands, in the four decade nearly over 40-year history of the program.

The quota expansion for the program alone is huge when compared to the existing numbers. Currently, there are 2,238 CAP quotas for sea duty that skippers can use to advance their people outside of the exam testing cycles. Those account for roughly just less than 1one percent of the total force and about 2.5 percent of those currently on sea duty and thus eligible for command advancement, officials say.

Mabus' plan is to expand that next year to 5 percent of the force. With the expansion to shore duty commands, and with an enlisted force of roughly 268,000 sailors, that wcould lead to as many as 13,400 spot advancements annuallypotential advancements yearly.

To be sure, much still has to be worked out, such as how commands could Other things that need to be worked out is how and when commands would "give back" unused quotas or as well as how commands would petition for more than they're allowed all remains to be worked out.

CAP quotas are now based on the size of the command.

A command with 100 or fewer authorized enlisted billets can CAP two sailors: one to E-5 and one to E-6. Commands with more than 100, but fewer than 1,000, billets, like a cruiser, get two E-5 quotas and one for E-6. Those between 1,000 and 2,000 get four E-5s and two E-6s. And commands like aircraft carriers, with upward of 2,000 billets, can spot-advance six E-5s and two E-6s.

While there are no quotas to spot-advance to E-4, commands can take unused E-5 or E-6 billets and instead advance someone to E-4. But they're still limited to the total number of quotas.

Officials say the basic program and mechanics will stay the same, but the existing formula will most likely be re-evaluated to see if it is also valid for shore commands.

Only Once it's decided how to spread quotas to shore commands, officials say they can see about increasing the numbers all CO's have to work with.

Expanding spot promotions

Navy officials say The total quota picture will have to be worked over the next six months, and a lot will be determined by how this year's first ever "CAP season," which runs from July through September, begins July 1 and ends September 30 goes, officials say.

Another idea on the table is having two annual CMAP seasons, one in the spring and one in the fall, possibly just before the quotas are divvied up for the tests cycles.

Personnel officials believe that two cycles might actually make it easier to track the spot advancements by allowing quotas planners to accurately account for them spot advancements as they develop their plan. quota's plan for those taking the tests each cycle.

Still, those officials say they're not going to mandate that CO's advance anybody. It's still an optional program, and it will be up to individual commands to come up with their own rules for policies and procedures on how they'll manage the new program and how they decide who gets advanced.

This initial idea was set in motion last fall when Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bill Moran announced he was overhauling the command advancement system by putting in controls in place to ensure the fleet promotions wouldn't risk overmanning ratings.

Indeed, manpower planners have blamed CAP for exacerbating overmanning problems, so Moran's reforms were a compromise that saved spot promotions from the scrap heap. This fact alone almost ended deckplate advancements for good as it was blamed by many manpower planners and community managers as a contributing factor in the overmanning which led the Navy to execute the 2011 enlisted retention boards to correct.

This year's CAPprogram also expands eligibility to more sailors by allowing the "early promote waiver" for spot advancements, which too. This waiver allows COs to waive up to a year for sailors to compete for advancement during the test cycle or for the chief's board — now this will also apply to the Meritorious Advancements, too.

Officials say a naval administrative message NavAdmin will be released before this year's new Meritorious Advancement Program season starts advancement season which starts July 1, renaming it again saying what's changed for this year.

But the intent of Navy leadership in expanding the program next year is to show that they've heard command leaders' pleas asking for more of a say in their people's advancements. They are creating a path for the current system to evolve into a hybrid, performance-based system where spot advancements exist alongside the tried-and-true testing system.

Moran told Navy Times last fall that his goal is to change fleet culture. Commanders need to stop thinking of spot promotions as a tool to be used to help "bad test takers." Instead, these spots should be reserved for top performers and leaders, Moran insists. now MAP as a "boutique" program and start thinking a little bigger across their commands.

Plus, seeing more sailors spot promoted is a morale boost that can inspire shipmates, officials add.And seeing more sailors advanced on the spot by their commands is good for moral, officials say and could inspire sailors to work just a bit harder to get command notice and possibly a advancement

That said, many fleet sailors give the program mixed reviews. The most common gripe: that rather than rewarding top performers, skippers pick those who get the most face time or who are facing a that commands choose to save sailors who are near their high-year tenure cap.

Personnel officials say another issue is that some COs have viewed command advancements like medals — and only dished them out to the few that go well above and beyond. out to a few and only those who go way over and above.

And what Moran said about spot advancements is very simple. Pick your best sailors and don't wait for them to take the exam — if they're eligible by Navy rules and the command agrees they're ready for work and responsibility at the next pay grade, don't wait — advance them yourself.

Commands are in the best position to recognize their best sailors, personnel officials told Navy Times in a written response to a query about the upcoming season.

"We want commands to use all their quotas while coordinating with PERS-8 to ensure eligibility and remaining within guidelines. Guidelines are in place to help maintain community health," officials said in the response.

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