This year’s Meritorious Advancement season — due to begin July 1 — will see As many as nearly 800 shore-duty sailors will move up the ranks this summer without the having to touching raise a No. 2 pencil to an exam answer sheet. 

Those sailors will be eligible for advancement under the new Meritorious Advancement Program, which has allowed fleet sailors to be handpicked for advancing up the petty officer ranks by their commands. The redesigned spot advancement program gives skippers more say over sailors' careers and was overseen by the chief of naval personnel, who has also ordered the no-test advancements to expand to shore-duty commands.

Vice Adm. Bill Moran has met with manpower planners and enlisted leaders to ensure that the expanding no-test advancements don't undermine progress in unclogging overmanned ratings.

Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. Bill Moran announced his intention to expand no-test advancements to shore duty sailors last fall, but today, he announced his initial plan to make it happen — hinting if it goes well that more quotas could come.

In addition, he's listened to fleet and manpower advisors and has put in a few extra controls to ensure the program doesn't over man certain ratings and pay grades — long a concern of community managers under the old Command Advancement Program.

The changes came out of working groups of senior enlisted sailors led by MCPON's leadership mess last fall after season one wrapped.

These master chief's surveyed the fleet for feedback after season one wrapped up last fall, making recommendations to for adjustments for adjusting and expanding advancements under MAP.

"I met with the leadership mess and took their ideas as well as those from the community managers, and we’ve made adjustments for going forward," Moran said told Navy Times in an April 15 phone interview. "One of the main ideas that came forward from that effort was the idea to put in controls to ensure that already challenged rates had some Navy-wide advancement down the line and we wanted to assess to the possibility of expanding MAP to some shore-duty opportunity — especially with the number of rates that are largely shore-centric and not sea-centric."

There's also discussions about upping the number of MAP allowances, advancing Other ideas that have come through into this year’s season are allowing some nondesignated Professional Apprenticeship Career Track sailors  — and even spot-advancing sailors to chief. to net a meritorious advancements, too. And as they evaluate the program, he’s also open to considering expansion of the program to some meritorious advancements to chief petty officer, too.

"This year is all about the expansion to shore, and we'll execute our plan and again evaluate how it worked out as we plan again for next year and determine if we want to make additional adjustments," Moran said. "I don't expect this to be the last turn we take on it, either."

This year, only active-duty and Full-Time Support sailors are eligible for spot advancements. MAP will only happen for those in the active-duty and reserve full-time support. Due to recent Because of manning levels in many reserve ratings caused by reductions brought on by force structure changes, a moratorium has been placed on MAP for Selected Reserve for 2016. The only exception will be that Navy Recruiting Districts will each get one MAP quota to advance reservists on active-duty filling canvasser recruiter billets.

No-test advancement spots

This year, there will be a total of 3,081 quotas: 2,212 slots quotas for sea commands; 678 quotas earmarked only for shore commands; and another 191 quotas for designated Echelon 2 commanders to distribute across small commands. , mostly to smaller commands that only have a few sailors. UIC’s that may only have a few sailors attached and thus don’t get their own quotas.

Here’s How they break down by paygrade:

  • E-4: 1,124 with 86 percent sea duty.
  • E-5: 936 with 85 percent sea duty.
  • E-6: 1,021 with 58 percent sea duty.

Quotas by unit identification code can be found here.

The more even split in E-6 MAP advancements stems from the fact that many second class petty officers are moving to their first shore tour around the time they become eligible for E-6. is because when many E5s are becoming eligible for first class, many are at the end of their initial sea tour and are beginning to rotate to their first shore tour.

"We're starting small with the shore-duty quotas so we can assess the impact on manning and also retention," Fleet Master Chief (AW/SW) April Beldo said in the phone interview. "It still represents about 10 percent of total advancements — that's what we want right now as we assess the impact of the program."

Officials will again this year account for no-test advancements when they set quotas when the release the fall petty officer advancement quotas. But they stress that each spot advance isn't a one-for-one subtraction from the Navy-wide quotas. But these  in November, but Moran says that a common misconception he hears from sailors is that someone getting a MAP quotas takes away from the chances of others to advance off the exam. 

"I hear that a lot from sailors as we move around the fleet — both as all hands call questions and when I'm talking one-on-one," he said. "I just want sailors to know that it's just not the truth — but by accounting for all advancements together we ensure that we keep opportunity rolling on both the [Navy-wide Exam] and through MAP."

New rules

One of the biggest knocks personnel officials had against the Command Advancement Program was the potential of individual rates — rating and paygrade combinations — to become overmanned. The concern was that COs would use their spots to advance those with few opportunities in their rate, thus worsening the overmanning situation. by allowing CO’s to advance into them as the tendency was to command advance those in ratings with tough advancement — because they were filled up. 

That concern reared up this past fall when two rates, boatswain's mate and ship's serviceman, at the first class petty officer level had no exam quotas. But still, 45 BM's and 24 SH's were advanced by their COsMAP. Some agreed that was unfair and felt that the numbers of MAP advancements would cause more problems for those rates this year, which it has.

So, Moran said, the community managers asked for a change in rules. 

"This cycle, we're going to restrict the number of quotas for 18 rates out of the 270 we have in the three MAP paygrades," Moran said, referring to new rules that will make it harder for COs to spot advance sailors in restricted rates.

"It's a relatively small number in the grand scheme of things," Moran continued. "It's only in there to modulate so we're not going wildly above manning levels."

Another 33 in the reserve full-time support will also be restricted.

Rates considered restricted will be scrutinized. won’t have a moratorium on advancement, but it will be scrutinized closely, he said. In the active component, there's eleven at the first class level — including BM1 and SH1 — and seven others at the second class level. The larger numbers of FTS restrictions is because the overall numbers of sailors in those rates is very small, and small changes up or down can more quickly impact manning.

"We'll allow commanding officers who really want to advance someone in those rates to apply through their [chain of command]," Moran said. "There will be a negotiation with the community mangers in Millington to look at the total picture — we're going to allow some, but not all, and it will depend on the number of requests."

The rule change doesn't allow the community managers to forbid anyone to be advanced — their job is only to explain to the sailors echelon 2II commanders the consequences to that rate if too many advancements are pushed through by commanders.  

"If only a few are being asked for in a given rate, we may well grant waivers to all," he said. "On the other hand if we see forty come in, we may have to turn down a lot of them because we can't afford to overman a rate and cause ripple effects down the road."

For COs wishing to advance sailors in these rates, that negotiation can start immediately, since all requests to advance in restricted rates must be in by June 15, and approvals or disapprovals will be meted out before the July 1 start of advancement season. 

[this could be a box]

Here’s a look at These are the rates being restricted this MAP season:

  • Active Component: AME1, AWF1, AWO1, AWV1, BM1, CTM1, EO1, GSM1, MR1, SH1, UT1, AWF2, AWR2, CSS2, GSM2, MR2, SH2 and STS2.
  • Full-Time Support:  AME1, AO1, AS1, ATI1, ATO1, AZ1, CS1, ET1, IT1, NCC1, PR1, AME2, AS2, ATI2, AZ2, EM2, ET2, PR2, AO3, AWF3, ET3 and PR3.

[end possible box]

General detail sailors in the Professional Apprenticeship Career Tracks program are also eligible for MAP if they:

  • Have at least 12 months-time at onboard their permanent duty station.
  • Meet the required time-in-rate requirement for advancement to E-4 as of Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Have an approved quota for rating designation, provided that designation is not in an 'A' School required rating.

What's next

Moran says that he’s open to expanding the program in future years. further after , but still says the slow and steady approach for increasing quotas and the scope of MAP is the correct one. 

"Every time we take an action, we should be predicting an outcome and assessing ourselves against that prediction at the end of the cycle to see if we got the desired effect," he said. "As ratings continue to stabilize, then I think we might be able to go higher or we could find out we need to dial back at some point — I'm not fixed with the number but I think it should be based on the data and the results we get in terms of retention."

Right now, only those selected as the Navy-wide sailors of the year get a meritorious advancement to chief petty officer. Moran says he’s open to not adverse to expanding MAP in that direction someday. 

"Right now I have a lot of faith in our board process, and that needs to be the primary means by which we select our chief petty officers," Moran said. "That said, we might explore broadening the categories of people that can be advanced through MAP to include chief petty officer [selected] on a more local level — but that would be something we'll continue to explore as we examine the effect of MAP and the expanding MAP on the entirety of the fleet."

Quotas by Unit Identification Codes (UIC) are posted on the MAP web page at:  http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/career/talentmanagement/Pages/MAP.aspx.

Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.

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