As the sea services prepare to face off against near-peer threats equipped with constantly updated technology, the Navy must offer hyper-flexible career paths to attract the best people, the service's top admiral said Wednesday.
Sailors and naval officers will see more meritorious promotions, opportunities to work with outside companies and other flexible career options, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said at a conference hosted by Defense News outside Washington, D.C..
"We're doing some tremendous things to update and modernize our personnel system to really focus on leadership development," he said.
That includes offering incentives to some uniformed communities, such as aviators, who might be eyeing opportunities on the outside, Richardson said. The Navy is also likely to take advantage of new authorizations from Congress that allow all the military services to bring in experts at higher ranks and overhaul their officer promotion systems.
"We're moving from a more traditional, conveyer-belt up-or-out type of an approach toward a conditions-based, up-and-stay or up-and-return approach," Richardson said. "[That provides] a lot more flexibility in terms of the options we offer our people while keeping the training and certification standards very high."
All of that is necessary as competition in the battlespace changes rapidly, the CNO said. The last time the Navy fought a great power, the space and cyber domains weren't areas sailors had to worry much about. Now the rules of the game have changed, he said, and the military needs the best in those fields.
Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said last month that the sea services were not only eying allowing more experts to come in at higher ranks, but also letting people move on and off active duty without the moves harming their shot at promotion.
The Navy's tours with industry program that Richardson wants to expand offers service members a chance to spend up to a year working with an outside companies that complement their naval careers. The program is designed to give service members a look at civilian organizations' best practices and provide leadership, management and communications training.