Coast Guard Suspends Policy That Booted Troops Who Weren't Promoted Quickly Enough

Capt. Eric Jones, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle's commanding officer, shakes hands with Petty Officer First Class Henry Cylkowski after a promotion ceremony onboard the Eagle.
Capt. Eric Jones, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle's commanding officer, shakes hands with Petty Officer First Class Henry Cylkowski after a promotion ceremony onboard the Eagle, Friday, April 30, 2010. (Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco/U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The Coast Guard has suspended a policy that required its enlisted members to leave the service if they hadn't been promoted within a certain time frame, according to a service-wide message published Monday.

Known as "high-year tenure," the policy is used by the armed forces to ensure that service members keep working to reach the next level of rank or rating.

With retention a concern and to "provide people with greater career flexibility," the policy has been suspended through Dec. 31, 2024, according to Capt. Monique Roebuck in the Coast Guard's Office of Military Policy.

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"It'll lift the burden of needing to hit targeted goals that might not be realistic for someone and offer more breathing room," Roebuck said Monday in a press release.

The move is part of Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan's effort to improve recruitment and human resources management for the service. Fagan told members of Congress in July that finding ways for the Coast Guard to get the most out of its workforce was her top priority, and she pledged to "revolutionize talent management policies" in her Commandant's Intent, published shortly after she took office.

"We ... need to get after policies that have served us well but do not continue to serve as well as we move forward in a way that is reflective of society and the work that we are asking our workforce to do," Fagan told members of the House Homeland Transportation and Maritime Security subcommittee in July.

Fagan did not say what percent of Coast Guard personnel leave as a result of high-year tenure policies or other issues, but the Coast Guard has consistently fallen short of its recruiting goals by roughly 20% each year since 2019.

The message, ALCOAST 368/22, applies to active-duty enlisted members who reach or exceed their Professional Growth Point on or before Jan. 1, 2025, and includes those currently serving on a high-year tenure waiver.

Those serving on an expired high-year tenure waiver may contact the Coast Guard's personnel office to see whether they may be allowed to continue serving, according to the message.

Coast Guard officials said that waiving the high-year tenure will let members remain in rank for a variety of reasons -- personal, academic or professional -- while a working group evaluates the policy to ensure that members have flexibility but still remain motivated and advance in their careers.

"The Military Workforce Planning Team will continue to evaluate the health of the workforce through 2024," Roebuck said. "And we'll continue to consider how to modernize HYT policy to enhance career flexibility while ensuring qualified individuals continue to advance into positions of greater leadership and responsibility."

To address its retention concerns, the Navy announced in June that that sailors could apply for a delay in separation or retirement and that it was waiving "high-year tenure" requirements so sailors could stay up to another year.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

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