The Navy Line Officer O-4 Selection: Revisited.

I previously posted about the extremely low selection rate of Naval aviators and flight officers. Our aviators and flight officers selected for O-4 in the 50% range, whereas other 3 main Naval officer communities, the surface warfare officers, SEALs, and submarine communities, selected in the 90% range. In fact, the explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) community selected at 105% because they promoted officers who did not make promotion during their 2 previous opportunities.

I received most of my information about the O-4 slaughter selection from this blog post that was made by a Naval aviator: <– you'll want to copy and paste the link, as this link probably does not work.

As the author of the blog posts says, there's no accurate way to compare officers from the 4 main Naval communities together in an honest fashion because they have had very different training, their missions are entirely different, and their communities dictate different experiences. Essentially, each community has their own way of doing things and, thus, the officers look very different on paper. And, in fact, the promotion board only uses the "paper" to promote the officers (perhaps herein lies the problem?).

It is astonishing that officers from the other 3 communities would select at such a high rate and only our aviation officers would select low. Either the system is flawed or our aviation officers are not up to snuff … and, though I am not an expert and I am biased, I’m certain that our Naval aviation officers perform just as well as those in the other communities when it comes to their missions; and, even if we had poorer performers this selection, we should have selected at at least 70% … right?!

There has been a lot of discussion in the aviation community about this particular slaughter selection, which brings me back to the purpose of this blog post:
If you have some time and are interested, read through the comments on the above blog post. I spent about 45 minutes tonight reading *most* of the comments and they were thoroughly enlightening. Fair warning, there are a few bigoted off-color comments from some asshat anonymous person, but they certainly do not speak for the whole aviation community. In fact, that kind of opinion is hopefully probably retired out of the Navy at this point.

Since I’m not an expert or a part of the community, I do not feel that I can speak intelligently about what went wrong. However, I do know that *something* went horribly wrong.

The aviation community is facing an extreme shortage of pilots and naval flight officers (NFOs), and the aviation community higher-ups are going to have to get VERY creative VERY soon in order to fill the vacancies of most of the recently-promoted O-4s who are leaving the active duty Navy ASAP.

If the higher-ups in the Navy were not aware of the on-coming mass exodus of pilots and NFOs, then they are deaf, dumb, and blind. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we know TWO people who are definitely staying in the active duty military to become Department Heads (DHs), which is the next step after officers make O-4. Almost everyone we know is leaving the active duty military, and we know a LOT of people.

We wonder when the higher-ups will finally hit the panic button and face the fact that they have a problem on their hands. We wonder if there will be an emergency board this fall to emergency-promote more O-4s in hopes that the new O-4s will stay-in. We’ve heard that the DH bonus cannot be raised, but I don’t think that most people will be swayed by the money (though, we sure could use more! ha). People are getting out because the airlines are hiring, the economy is improving, and our family life is poor during this on-going war.

And, most importantly, there is no end-in-sight for the end of this war-on-terror and the accompanying long deployments. Those with children are doomed to spend more time away from their children then together. My husband and I have it “easier” because, without children, I have more flexibility to visit him whenever possible, and we can better afford the trips. When we return to the States, we will probably face 2 10 month deployments that are preceded by 3 – 6 month work-ups during a 2.5 year DH tour. THIS is why people are getting out. THIS needs to be fixed for our entire military. Where is the leadership standing up for its people?! Boy, I’d love to sit-down with a decision-maker in the military for a few hours and talk solutions and problem-solving.

Those of us who choose to stay in are doing it because our opportunities within the Navy still seem better then those in the civilian world, we like some aspect(s) of the military lifestyle, we feel that we’ve already invested so much that we want to see our investment through, or we wish to see the war to its finish and protect our homeland.

I hope that we stay in this active duty Navy because I do, honestly, like our military life. I like our our military community, I like our future, I love moving around every few years and meeting so many new people, and my husband LOVES LOVES LOVES LOVES flying a jet. I find that we have a lot of flexibility with our lifestyle and I appreciate that my husband will be able to retire at age 43 or 44, after which we will be able to build an even more fabulous life together with financial freedom and so much possibility. If he were to get out of the active duty military, we would be working until 60 or 65, like most other people – and who wants two do that?! Not me. I am a long-gamer, and I like the big pay-off. I think the struggles are worth the “early” retirement. I think the separations now are worth having him next to me everyday after age 43 or 44. I love my husband so much that I am willing to do the big sacrifices RIGHT NOW in order to invest in the future that we want.

However, I am not the one who has to work within the framework of the Navy. I do not have to directly deal with the bureaucracy involved with my husband’s future jobs. I do not have to directly deal with the flaws of the military leadership. In the end, the decision is his … and this recent slaughter selection was a sad reminder to take a look at what the civilian world has to offer.

One last very important point:
We know a few guys who just got out as O-4s. At the time they left the military, with only 10 years of service, they had deployed longer and more times then their O-6 Commanding Officers, who have at least 20 years of service.

I think this point is lost entirely in the noise of people running to the exits.

I have faith that things WILL change … just not tomorrow, and not in time to convince so many of our pilot and NFO friends to stay-in this round.


    1. It’s too small to read on my phone, but I was about to glean the jist of it. Thank you for sharing!! I can’t wait to read it tomorrow morning on my computer.

  1. Don’t count on not working after retirement form the military. Military retirement is not that much and if you have kids that attend college, you will work until 65.

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