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Managing Your Future:

Changing the Submarine Officer Career Path

by Capt. Mark Myers

In October 2005, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Adm. Mike Mullen, released “Meeting the Challenge of a New Era,” his guidance for 2006. The CNO stated that we must continue to develop 21st century leaders through a transformed Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education (MPT&E) organization that better competes for the talent our country produces and creates the conditions in which the full potential of every man and woman serving our Navy can be achieved.

Both now and in the future, the professional submarine officer must not only be an expert in our submarine core competencies and mission areas, but

also be able to effectively lead Navy, fleet, and joint operations. To develop a larger pool of submarine-qualified joint and fleet officers to meet the challenge, several fundamental changes to the submarine career path have been instituted. Among these changes are earlier career gates, tour length adjustments, and joint education goals.

Earlier Career Gates and Adjusted Tour Lengths
To guarantee submarine officers are competitive for “Big Navy” or joint assignments, major command tours should start at 22 years commissioned service (YCS). Based on the old prospective commanding officer (PCO) gate, one would start a commanding officer tour at 17 YCS, and possibly 18 YCS. Following a nominal command tour, the first post commander command (PCC) tour would begin at 21 YCS. Normally two PCC tours are completed before beginning a major command tour. All together, these tours would move the start of a major command tour to 25 YCS based on optimum tour lengths and time for travel between jobs. Beginning major command at 25 YCS is well after the other unrestricted line communities.

Balanced with the need to shift the major command career gate to 22 YCS is the necessity to continue detailing for two assignments following command. Planning for these two assignments provides the Submarine Force the flexibility to send non-joint officers to a joint duty assignment while still maintaining our required operational, warfighting, and waterfront support. Based on these two factors, the commanding officer gate (PCO start date) is being adjusted to 16 YCS to meet the 22 YCS major command tour.

To meet the 16 YCS PCO gate, the prospective executive officer gate will eventually move from July of 13 YCS to April of 12 YCS (for May graduates).

The department head Submarine Officer Advanced Course gate will remain at July of seven YCS. The gate ensures that department heads (DH) receive a competitive department head FITREP prior to the O-4 selection board.

Simply moving career gates to the left will not be enough to maintain the 16 YCS PCO gate. To balance shore assignments required for development of Joint Specialty Officers and core competencies with requisite submarine at-sea experience, the Undersea Enterprise (USE) has directed that JO/DH/XO tour lengths be shortened to 32/32/20 months respectively. This represents approximately a 10 percent reduction in at-sea experience. The key to success while we transition to these new tour lengths is wardroom management. It is imperative that each wardroom work within these boundaries and exploit the shore training infrastructure (VSUB, IDE, Periscope Lab, JO Schools, etc.) to maximize submarine experience prior to officer projected rotation dates (PRD). These tour lengths and earlier career gates slightly modify a known and proven career path while setting up the Submarine Force for success in meeting the military challenges of the future.

INTERMEDIATE-LEVEL EDUCATION (0-4)

Service Intermediate-Level Colleges (ILC)

- Marine Corps Command and Staff College

JPME Phase I

- Air Command and Staff College

JPME Phase I

- Army Command and General Staff College

JPME Phase I

- College of Naval Command and Staff

JPME Phase I

Non-Resident Education Programs

- Marine Corps Command &
Staff College Distance Education Program

JPME Phase I

- Air Command & Staff College Non-Resident Program

JPME Phase I

- Army Command & General Staff College
Non-Resident Program

JPME Phase I

- College of Naval Command and Staff
Non-Resident Program

JPME Phase I

Intermediate JPME Courses

- Joint and Combined Warfighting School-Intermediate (JCWS-I)

JPME Phase II

SENIOR-LEVEL EDUCATION (0-5/0-6)

Service Senior-Level Colleges (SLC)

- Marine Corps War College

JPME Phase I (authorized for AY 06, JPME Phase II)

- Air War College

JPME Phase I (authorized for AY 06, JPME Phase II)

- Army War College

JPME Phase I (authorized for AY 06, JPME Phase II)

- College of Naval Warfare

JPME Phase I (authorized for AY 06, JPME Phase II)

Non-Resident Education Programs

- Army War College Corresponding Studies Program

JPME Phase I

Senior JPME Courses

- Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF)

Single-Phase JPME Phase (I & II)

- National War College (NWC)

Single-Phase JPME Phase (I & II)

- Joint Advanced Warfighting School (JAWS)

Single-Phase JPME Phase (I & II)

- Joint & Combined Warfighting School-Senior
(JCWS-S)

JPME Phase II

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