The year 2025 may be 15 months away, but the Navy is directing commands now to ensure that personnel attend leadership development programs so that they can be eligible for advancement that year.

Enlisted leader development, or ELD, programs educate sailors on ethics, decision-making and character development, and were first stood up in 2019. But starting in 2025, sailors won’t be able to rank up to the E-6 and E-7 paygrades without attending the courses.

“ELD completion will be a prerequisite to take the Navy-wide advancement exam for E-6 and E-7,” a Navy administrative message released Tuesday states.

Advancing to E-8 will require course attendance starting in fiscal year 2026, according to the Navy. E-4 courses are available but are not yet a requirement to be eligible for advancement, according to the message.

“It is imperative that command leadership send the right personnel at the right time to ELD courses to ensure personnel eligible for advancement have attended the appropriate ELD course leading up to the 2025 deadline,” the message states.

The enlisted leader development program encompasses several classes: the Foundational Leader Development Course for E-3 and E-4 sailors; the Intermediate Leader Development Course for E-5 sailors; the Advanced Leader Development Course for E-6 sailors; and the Chief Petty Officer Leader Development Course for E-7 sailors.

The Navy estimates that between now and the end of calendar year 2024, 16,750 sailors will complete the intermediate level, 35,850 will complete the E-6 level and 11,230 will complete the required E-7 training, Naval Education and Training Command spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Leslie Hubbell said in an email to Navy Times.

The Navy announced in 2021 that sailors would have to complete the courses to advance to E-6 and E-7, and Tuesday’s guidance offered more information about what the program should look like for sailors.

“While overall responsibility for ELD rests with the unit commanding officer, the executive officer in conjunction with the command master chief/senior enlisted leader will plan, track, and ensure all Sailor’s ELD requirements are met prior to the 2025 deadline,” the Navy message states. “It is highly recommended that an E-7 or above is assigned as a command ELD coordinator to assist command leadership with tracking and planning.”

The guidance stipulates that the courses should not be altered or modified and require between three to five days of instruction for eight hours a day, depending on the specific leadership program.

Approximately 25% of the leader development courses are taught at the Naval Leadership and Ethics Center schoolhouses in San Diego and Dam Neck, Virginia. Commands across the fleet utilize certified senior leaders, known as command or chief petty officer Navy leader development facilitator instructors, to teach the rest.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy James Honea told Navy Times in September that he is working to centralize and establish specific schoolhouses for this training, like the other services do.

Established schoolhouses would foster standardization across the fleet and ensure sailors are receiving the full curriculum, Honea said.

“I think that those — coupled with the curriculum we have developed — will help make sailors that much better humans and help them work on and develop their own attributes and traits necessary to be better leaders and better connect with other people,” Honea said. “It’s going to make better teams.”

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