Sailors Who Can't Deploy Will Face Administrative Separation

Sailors heave a mooring line aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) as it departs Naval Base San Diego for a scheduled underway. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)
Sailors heave a mooring line aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) as it departs Naval Base San Diego for a scheduled underway. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)

It's official: Sailors who go more than 12 months without qualifying for sea duty are going to face administrative separation from the service.

Navy leaders announced the new policy in a Tuesday service-wide administrative message  following a Facebook Live event with Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith and Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke.

"We've been talking about this for a year," Burke said. "... If you go 12 consecutive months not qualifying for sea duty, which is our rough metric of deployability in the Navy because we're a sea-going service, you're subject to processing for administrative separation."

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That doesn't mean every sailor or Navy officer in that category will be automatically discharged, he added, but they'll be looked at for possible separation.

The policy goes into effect on Oct. 1. The only set exceptions to the policy will include pregnancy and combat wounds, Burke said. Other situations can be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

"Bottom line is, all the services are doing similar things because we're in a new game," he said. "As I said at the beginning here, our adversaries are working overtime to overtake us. We've got to be lean and lethal. We don't have a lot of room to be carrying people on the books who aren't able to be in warfighting trim.

"If you're not there," he added, "we're going to find somebody who can be in that position."

The move is meant to improve readiness across the force, according to the NAVADMIN. Deployability is going to be tracked, and commands "will use written counseling and fitness reports/performance evaluations to document a service members knowing failure to comply with responsibilities to maintain individual readiness."

That includes missing medical or dental appointments, as Military.com first reported last month.

"That's no longer my responsibility; that is your responsibility as a sailor," Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer told reporters in August. "And by the way, I'm going to judge you on that."

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned troops in February that if they weren't ready to deploy, they needed to find something else to do with their lives outside the military.

"I'm not going have some people deploying constantly and then other people, who seem to not pay that price, in the U.S. military," he said. "If you can't go overseas [and] carry a combat load, then obviously someone else has got to go. I want this spread fairly and expertly across the force."

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.

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