Detailing our future in the Navy.

My husband tells me that I’m being slightly ridiculous with my excitement over his meeting with the detailer this morning.

What is a detailer, you ask? A detailer is the person in the Navy who is responsible for assigning a service member’s next job and helping him or her stay on track with their career. The service member will meet with their detailer 1-2yrs prior to their next assignment (which occurs at regular intervals depending on the service member’s rank and career area). During the meeting, the service member will give their detailer a brief wish list of places they would like to live and things that they would like to do — call it a “Top 3”. The detailer also meets with the service member’s boss to collect their opinion and, collectively with the service member’s records and timing, assigns their next job. In the military we say that timing is everything, as it dictates 75% of the decision for a service member’s next assignment, but that other 25% is up to us … and the detailer.

Most F-18 pilots only have 3 places that they will work for the majority of their career: Virginia Beach, Lemoore (CA), and Japan. Most of us rest assured knowing that we will live in these 3 places for the majority of our 20yrs in the Navy. However, many of us have preferences for which of these 3 places we would like to live. Timing governs much of the job assignment — lets say, for example, we live in Japan but want to go to Lemoore next. Lets say that my husband’s next job only has 6 open slots in the whole F-18 community that work with his timing to leave here in April 2015. 1 slot is an individual augmentation in Bahrain; 1 slot is at the Pentagon; 2 slots are in Japan; 1 slot is at the Navy War College; 2 slots are in Lemoore. If we want one of those slots in Lemoore, we need to tell the detailer that Lemoore is our first choice and keep our fingers crossed that the detailer will be able to find a replacement for my husband and be able to rotate the replacement here in time to relieve my husband at his job here in time for us to move to Lemoore in time for him to fill one of those vacancies. And, the replacement in Japan must also have a replacement who can rotate in time for him to leave for Japan in time to relieve my husband. If all of those moving pieces can’t work perfectly, my husband will be sent to any of those other slots where the timing is better. The assignment situation is very fluid and unsettling for those of us who dread “gray areas”, and our best bet is to have good communication with our detailer and keep our fingers crossed that our detailer is going to work hard on our behalf. I’ve heard very few people complain about their detailers, so my fingers are crossed that my husband has a great detailer here, too.

Yesterday, one of my husband’s coworkers brought a new assignment to our attention — one that I maaaayyyy want to happen more then any others that he and I have discussed so far. Because we are choosing to not have any children at this point, we are of the opinion that we have a passport that is made to be used. Hopefully one of our top 3 choices will work out for us, but we will not be surprised if they do not. I think that the true mottos of the military should be: “Hurry up and wait”, “Timing is everything”, “It’s a small world”, and “Hope for the best but plan for the worst”.

Despite the fact that we probably will not receive any of our top choices, I am excited nonetheless and encouraged by the possibilities. So much of getting what you want is asking for what you want, and repeating it to the people who matter. I think that my husband has done that pretty well over the last few months, and hopefully now that the detailer knows, we will move forward in the direction that we desire.

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