Promotion zones will be a thing of the past, and for the first time, you'll be able to overcome your date of rank to be more competitive, Capt. Dan Dwyer told an audience packed with junior and senior officers Friday at the annual Tailhook Reunion near Reno, Nevada.
"If you're a front runner in the fleet and you had a mid-pack date of rank, and you have since turned it on and you promote at the top of that promotion rank, then your date of rank will be adjusted and you'll pin on rank ahead of your peers," he said.
It will be the Navy's first move to a talent-based promotion system, he added.
And there's more. Officers who become eligible for a promotion later than their peers, or who aren't selected their first time before a promotion board, often end up sporting a scarlet A, for "above-zone."
He painted a picture of a Naval Academy alum who gets the opportunity to earn a master's at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology right after graduation. Then he goes to flight school, becomes an EA-18G Growler pilot, and after a tour as a fleet replacement squadron student, he does two deployments with a fleet squadron.
Next he moves onto his first shore tour as an FRS instructor, and within a year, he's up for promotion to O-4. The problem, Dwyer said, is he's now years behind the others in his year group and considered above-zone.
"But obviously he's a very talented, capable, valued naval aviator and our system could [possibly] not select him for promotion," he said. "So how do we maintain that those types of officers don't slip through the cracks?"
The answer is getting rid of the above- and in-zone promotion designations in board packages, he said, starting next year. Rather than giving a promotion to an above-zone officer at the expense of an in-zone officer, the board will just see one big pot of officers up for promotion.
Removing the zones won't change that dynamic, but it will give above-zone aviators a better shot at a promotion, because it will remove the "negative connotation" that comes with it, Dwyer said.
Another project is a Title 10 legislation change led by Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bill Moran, Dwyer said. NPC will ask Congress to allow promotion selectees to defer a promotion board for a year if they feel they aren't competitive enough yet, but think they'll be a better candidate in the next cycle.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT