Leadership: September 28, 2003

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Despite overseas cruises of record length and number, sailors in the U.S. Navy are re-enlisting in record numbers. This presents a problem, as the navy has more people wanting to stay in than the navy needs. At the same time, the navy is still reorganizing itself as a result of post-Cold War cutbacks and reforms. This has produced shortages of sailors in some specialties, and surpluses in over fifty others. The navy has found that, in peacetime, it's better to have sailors volunteer to change their specialty, rather than ordering them to switch. So the navy set up a program where sailors in overcrowded skill areas (like electrician and photographer) had to choose one of the shortage areas (like electronics and security) for retraining if they wanted to improve their chances of re-enlisting for another four or more years. The sailor had to be qualified (via an exam) to go to the school to learn the new skills. If not enough sailors in an overstaffed skill qualify for retraining, some are not allowed to re-enlist (but usually are offered a position in the naval reserve). After three years of planning, the system went into effect last April, and over six months, as many as 800 sailors are being notified that they cannot re-enlist. Thereafter, it's expected that 200-250 sailors a month will not be able to re-enlist. 

 


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