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Navy Expands Review of Gender-Specific Job Titles

The Navy is calling on senior service leaders to assist in a wide-ranging review of enlisted job titles, or ratings, designed to eliminate gender-specific language and provide clarity.

Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke announced Tuesday the Navy was extending its review through the summer and into the fall, allowing the service to assemble a new working group of Navy leaders to study "how potential changes to rating titles may affect related personnel policy issues."

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus first ordered a review of job titles for the Marine Corps and the Navy in January as the services opened previously closed positions to women. Mabus targeted jobs like "mortarman" and "fireman" in efforts to provide a more inclusive environment for female troops.

The new elements of the review followed a recent meeting between Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens, according to an announcement from Burke's office.

During the meeting, according to the announcements, the service leaders agreed to develop a new approach to enlisted job titles that would go beyond simple making them more gender-neutral. They called for ratings that would also provide greater detailing flexibility, training and credentialing opportunities, and that would communicate jobs and roles more clearly to the American public.

"As we move to achieve full integration of the force, mirroring more closely the nation that we defend, this is an opportunity to update position titles and descriptions to be more inclusive and better translate occupation and skill sets to prospective employers when Sailors and Marines leave the service," Mabus said in a statement.

This approach will also align the title review effort with personnel changes that are part of the Navy's Sailor 2025 initiative, said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for Burke. Sailor 2025, among other things, aims to reorganize training to make it more relevant to specific job responsibilities and to deliver it as a sailor needs it in his or her duties, rather than front-loading most of it at the start of a career.

It also follows the Navy's new billet-based distribution system, launched in February, that assigns sailors to billets in a more streamlined fashion based on rate, rating and Navy Enlisted Classification.

The Sailor 2025 initiative reorganizes current Navy training and delivery methods into blocks of learning that will be delivered closer to the time of actual use in a Sailor's duties. Accession level training courses will be redistributed across the Navy's entry programs, initial service schools, and the first two operational tours of a Sailor's career.

"We expect the results of this review to go well beyond new names for existing rates," Christensen said.

The review was expanded after Stevens assembled a first working group of master chief petty officers earlier this year to evaluate the Navy's existing ratings system.

According to a Defense Department official with knowledge of the process, the group developed four different courses of action with regard to the existing job titles. While a more comprehensive overhaul of the system meant more work, the master chiefs concluded that the time was right for such an effort, the official said.

This new working group would be overseen by Burke and include senior enlisted leaders and officers from around the fleet and from the Navy's personnel staff, said Christensen. The group will examine possible second- and third- order effects of changing rating titles, from potential impacts to career advancement to exams, training and uniforms.

"We envision a point where some combinations of today's rates, with similar training and experience, can quickly and easily cross into the occupations of other similar rates with a limited amount of additional training or experience," Christensen said. "This has the potential to enhance career flexibility and detailing options for our Sailors, while also improving 'fit' -- our ability to get the right Sailors with the right skills into the right billets across the fleet."

The Navy expects to release the results of this review later this fall, according to the announcement.

Meanwhile, a Marine Corps review of the service's own job titles is ongoing. Marine officials did not immediately respond to questions from Military.com about the status of that review.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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