More active duty sailors who are being forced to switch ratings now qualify for early separation, should they decide to leave the active Navy.

Previously, only sailors with up to 12 months before the soft expiration of their active obligated service qualified to separate. But now, sailors 36 months out from the end of their contractual obligations are eligible.

“Effective immediately, force conversion policy is expanded to update the minimum contract time remaining on Sailors’ soft expiration of active obligated service from 12 to 36 months for those who wish to separate from Active Duty in lieu of forced conversion,” a new NAVADMIN unveiling the policy said.

The service said requests to separate early must be coupled with a statement acknowledging that the sailor will miss out on any unearned bonuses and separation pay. All separations must occur by Sept. 30 this year, the Navy said.

The policy updates coincides with the Navy’s effort to release some sailors ahead of their contractual obligations to balance out overmanned ratings, as the service exceeded its retention goals for fiscal 2020.

“As the Navy has grown over recent years, some enlisted ratings at specific paygrades have become overmanned due to high retention in these ratings,” Navy’s Chief of Personnel Vice Adm. John B. Nowell Jr. said in November 2020. “Fleet readiness is our number one priority while also allowing for a flexible marketplace of talent management.”

As a result, the Navy announced last fall it was offering multiple avenues for some sailors to exit the service ahead of their contractual obligations.

Part of that effort included resurrecting the Early Enlisted Transition Program to release more than 700 sailors from 23 ratings. Quotas for the Early Enlisted Transition Program are updated in real time on the Navy Personnel Command website, as early outs from this program are approved on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Other early out options are aimed at sailors who want to attend college, apply for a commissioning program or request an inter-service transfer. The Navy has said that early separations will be approved on a case-by-case basis.

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