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Selection Boards


Selection boards are convened under the authority of Title 10 U.S.C. Section 611(a).


LDO selection boards are convened under the authority of Title 10 U.S.C. Section 611(a).
CWO selection boards are convened under the authority of Title 10 U.S.C. Section 573 and 574.

Promotion selection boards are composed of senior officers of experience, maturity and varied backgrounds from each competitive category being considered by that particular promotion selection board.  Their task is to recommend for promotion the best qualified from among all eligible officers, above, below, and in-zone.  The number of officers recommended for promotion may not exceed the number of officers approved by the Secretary of the Navy in the annual promotion plan.

Through a letter called a "precept", the Secretary of the Navy instructs the board president regarding Navy requirements and stipulates that the proceedings shall not be disclosed except as authorized by the Secretary.  This statement prevents external pressures from  influencing the board's decisions.  The promotion selection board is required only to submit its findings and recommendations and not the reasons for its decisions.  The Secretary of the Navy also directs that promotion selection board members will not be assigned to counsel those officers who fail selection before the board in which they were members.

Upon completion of the tasks prescribed in the precept, each promotion selection board prepares a final report of its findings and recommendations.  Each report must be signed by all board members and recorders, certifying that the board complied with all instructions contained in the precept, and as appropriate, other letters of guidance or instruction provided by the Secretary of the Navy.

While no record of the board's deliberations is retained, detailed records of the eligibility lists are retained.  These lists are meticulously checked and rechecked to avoid errors.  The fact that the records of the deliberations are not retained is also of interest to those individuals not selected, in that nothing enters their records indicating why they were not recommended for promotion.  Recommendations of the board are then forwarded, in order, to:

     a. Chief of Naval Personnel
     b. Judge Advocate General of the Navy (for legal review)
     c. Chief of Naval Operations
     d. Secretary of the Navy
     e. Secretary of Defense

Recommendations for the promotion of officers to LDO and CWO grades are normally approved or disapproved by the Secretary of the Defense, acting for the President of the United States, and are announced by NAVADMIN.  Recommendations for promotion to permanent
grades are approved and announced by the Secretary of the Navy, then forwarded to the Secretary of Defense for transmittal to the President.  The President forwards the approved list to the Senate for confirmation.


Each year, many outstanding officers fail of selection (FOS) for promotion.  There usually is no easy answer as to why.  Seldom do they "self-destruct" based on mediocre or less than superb fitness reports.  In most cases, they have outstanding records of performance, but do not make the cut in a highly competitive arena.  Space doesn't allow for a complete answer, but here are some basics:

     - If you fail selection for the first time, contact your detailer immediately.  Detailers have access to all necessary records, are able to compare you with your contemporaries in grade and specialty, and are the individuals most qualified and capable of providing this vital counseling.  In most cases, he/she will be able to advise you of the most probable reason(s) for non-selection and offer advice on how you might "get well" before the next board.  Although above zone selections are rare, they do occur.  However, unless you do something positive, it is unlikely that you'll get selected the second time around.

     - If, despite your best efforts, you are still not selected, you'll receive a letter from PERS-8, advising you of your options and providing a point of contact.  The rules vary depending on your present grade, whether a temporary or permanent officer, etc., so each case is handled individually.  In general, LDOs below the grade of Commander and permanent CWOs who twice fail of selection to the next higher grade have until the first day of the seventh month following approval of the board's report to take the action outlined in the letter from PERS-8, be it retirement, reversion or discharge.  For more details on retirement and the laws pertaining to LDOs and CWOs, see the Retirement Page.


MILPERSMAN, article 1420-010 provides guidance in communicating with promotion selection boards.  Individuals may not appear before a promotion selection board in person, but may communicate, in writing, with the president of the board.  Material submitted must be received prior to the board's convening date.

Only the officer being considered for promotion may communicate directly with the selection board.  Anyone else must submit information via the officer concerned as addressed in the annual ALNAV mentioned on the Promotion Zone Page.


Once promoted there are certain in-grade service requirements that must be met to be eligible for retirement.  The following minimum time in grade requirements are prescribed for voluntary and involuntary (statutory) retirements:

GRADE                    VOLUNTARY            INVOLUNTARY
ENS                       *Six months              Six months
LTJG                      *Six months              Six months
LT                          *Two years               Six months
LCDR                       Three years             Six months
CDR                        Three years             Six months
CAPT                       Three years             Six months
CWO2                     Two years                60 days
CWO3/4/5              *Two years               60 days
* Must complete initial three year service obligation upon appointment to LDO/CWO status if commissioned prior to October 1, 2004. Must complete four year service obligation if commissioned between October 1, 2004 and October 1, 2013. Must complete six year service
obligation if commissioned on or after October 1, 2013.

Involuntary retirements are those mandatory retirements based on statutory limitations of law; e.g., lieutenant commanders and below and all CWOs (with the exception of CWO5) must retire after completion of 30 years total active service.  (Selective Early Retirement (SER) is
involuntary, in that the individual is selected for retirement).

Voluntary retirements are all other retirements submitted by the member that request a retirement date that is earlier than the individual's involuntary (statutory) retirement date.

"Understanding Skill Guidance For Selection/Promotion Boards"
The Fleet often misunderstands inclusion of “Skill Guidance” in Officer Statutory Selection Board Precept.  Skill guidance is included when the needs of the Navy require either a minimum or maximum number of officers with a particular skill in a competitive category.  Skill guidance, as a matter of policy, is only included for those officers in zone, not above or below.  Skill guidance is considered a recommendation not a mandatory requirement nor does it supersede "the best and fully qualified."

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