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Navy Overhauls Enlisted Rating structure and NEC codes

Navy officials on Thursday announced the initial results of the promised overhaul to the Navy Enlisted Rating Structure, as well as a new system of Navy enlisted classification codes.

Current rating titles won't be impacted — they are here to stay, officials said, and there are no plans to change that.

The changes, officials say, are the next step toward realizing the Navy's enlisted rating modernization, which will eventually allow greater flexibility in career paths and be key to how the Navy identifies future enlisted retention bonuses.

The Navy's existing 11 communities are being reorganized into 12 enlisted communities and 23 career fields within those communities. Most of the existing community names remain.  However, there will be some changes. 

For example, "administration" will now be called "executive support," and "SPECWAR/OPs" has been broken into two separate communities. The two ratings supporting the SEAL community — special warfare operator and special boat operator — will now be coined "special warfare" — or SPECWAR.

The ratings of Navy diver and explosive ordnance disposal will also have their own community of special operations — or SPECOPS.

The surface communities of engineering and surface combat systems and operations will combine, but the 13 ratings that make up the community will be further broken down into three "career fields" — engineering, tech and OPS.

Aviation, information warfare and submarine communities have also been broken into smaller fields.

The remaining communities, as of today, have not identified any sub-career fields. 

A complete list of the new communities and career fields can be found  here. 

"These efforts are about war fighting readiness and are absolutely critical to the development and implementation of the Navy's Ready Relevant Learning (RRL) and rating modernization initiatives," Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke said in a statement issued Thursday.  

"Not only will these changes improve our personnel and billet management processes to assign the right individual to the right job, but it will ultimately provide us the ability to train and repurpose elements of our force to meet a rapidly changing world.

The new rating structure will help the Navy in the rating modernization effort, as codes will be more detailed than before and will be tied to either a community or career field — versus the current individual rating system.

All codes will begin with a letter signifying a community or career field followed by a series of numbers or letters.

The change for ratings comes as the Navy is transitioning its training and education into "blocks," which will be taught at different times throughout a sailor's career. A sailor's NEC will now indicate training block completion and basic skills.

Most sailors will start getting these new codes in their service records as ratings are transitioned into the new block training system, officials said. 

Officials are also building in a two-digit NEC suffix to further denote a sailor's proficiency and to show whether skills are current. The move is intended to give the system ability to expand and will be developed over time as additional skills are identified and coded.

The idea behind these changes is to simplify the process of tracking a sailor's skills in a form that can be quickly identified in personnel databases. 

This, in turn, will be identified by the new Billet-Based Detailing System, which will be able to read a sailor's codes and subsequently identify best fits for a job and whether or not additional training will be required, depending on the career move.

The codes will also be build to directly translate to civilian occupations and will help facilitate licensing and credentialing efforts.

Already, the Navy has converted 1,400 NECs into the new system, but it will be a multiyear effort to get every current NEC reworked.

Until then, the Navy will update the Navy Enlisted Classification Manual every three months. 

The changes officially go into effect at the beginning of October.

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