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Surface Warfare Launches New Initiative to Retain Top Talent
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Trevor Welsh, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – The surface warfare officer (SWO) lead detailer delivered a brief on the new SWO Career Chart during the 2015 Surface Navy Association (SNA) West Coast Symposium in San Diego, July 16.

Capt. Brad Cooper, from the Surface Officer Distribution Division (PERS-41), spoke about Vice Adm. Tom Rowden’s initiative to improve the careers of current and future surface warfare officers and continuing the Navy’s focus on Warfighting First. The goal of the new SWO Career Chart is to raise the level of talent in the SWO community and grow future department heads, commanding officers, warfare commanders, and flag officers who can think, lead, operate, and win in a variety of future environments.

Cooper told the group of the group that the program is about empowering junior officers, providing them flexibility and options.

“We are shifting away from a ‘conveyor belt’ approach and toward a multi-track, option-based, agile approach to career management,” said Cooper. “Surface warfare officers will now have the option to pursue different tracks as part of their career chart. These options connect strongly with and enable our top priority of ‘Warfighting First!’”

Cooper said this program is the first of its kind and offers SWO junior officers career options that give them the opportunity to develop skills valuable to the community, apply for education at America’s elite institutions, work at a Fortune 500 Company to gain valuable corporate experience and knowledge, increase the potential retention bonus and take career intermission to pursue goals, among others.

“Among the new options are going to Naval Postgraduate School after the first division officer tour, earning a Master’s degree in a skillset we value then returning to sea for a second division officer tour then to department head school,” said Cooper. “We want to offer an option-based, flexible, agile, career underscored by opportunities emerging from Sailor 2025 initiatives, a restructured bonus proposal that rewards performance and pro-active outreach to retain talent.”

Cooper said that junior officers and their families have different tracks on the SWO career chart available to them.

“This effort builds on current policies that have served us well,” said Cooper. “Under our new approach, commanding officers and junior officers are more empowered to influence the future and leverage new opportunities in graduate education, personal growth and career flexibility.”

Cooper said the initiative was not developed due to retention or accession issues, but is a new approach that focuses more on retaining the most talented vice the most willing.

“We’ll put a rocket on the backs of our best performers and propel those officers to new heights as those officers achieve their absolute maximum potential,” said Cooper.

The new initiative had been previously briefed to more than 60 flag officers on July 15 during the Surface Warfare Officer Flag Officers Training Symposium (SWOFOTS) in San Diego.

Along with the unveiling of this program to surface warfare leadership at SNA West 2015 and SWOFOTS, Cooper and his team has a global face-to-face tour planned to educate the surface warfare community.

“In the coming weeks, we will travel to every fleet concentration area and Washington, D.C. to brief this plan,” said Cooper. “The plan will also be briefed at the U.S. Naval Academy and to every ROTC [Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps] unit in America starting this fall. We will also pursue opportunities to virtually connect with SWOs serving throughout the country in other locations and assignments.”

For more information, follow PERS-41 on Facebook at and visit their official website

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