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US Navy to retain more underperforming sailors – RT World News

As recruiters struggle to fill vacancies, the military branch has stopped kicking out service members who haven’t been promoted

Recruitment difficulties and personnel shortages prompted the U.S. Navy to suspend its so-called “up-or-out” policy of firing veterans who did not perform well enough to be promoted.

The Navy will instead retain underperformers to reduce its number of “gaps at sea”, which means unfilled jobs on deployed ships, according to a statement released Thursday by the chief of naval operations in Washington. A pilot program allowing more veteran service members to remain in the Navy and qualify for retirement benefits is designed to improve retention efforts and “Fleet Readiness”.

Sailors were previously forced out of active service and transferred to the Naval Reserve if they did not achieve a high enough rank within a certain time frame, called “high year term.” The two-year pilot program will affect approximately 1,600 service members who might otherwise have been deported.

The Navy is said to have around 9,000 gaps at sea amid recruiting struggles from all branches of the US military. The US Army, for example, fell 25% below its recruiting target, enlisting 15,000 fewer new soldiers than expected, in its fiscal year ending Sept. 30. The Navy experienced a similar shortage of recruits for its reserve force.

The new retention program marks the Navy’s final step this year to address its understaffing. The branch had previously relaxed its rules to allow senior enlisted advisers, known as command leaders, to serve until age 36. It also offers enlistment bonuses and loan repayments totaling up to $115,000 for new recruits. The Navy raised its maximum enlistment age from 39 to 41 and changed its hiring standards to allow more recruits who barely passed their entrance exams.

“The Navy understands that we are in a difficult recruiting environment, and we are working to ensure that every active component sailor who wishes to remain on active duty has that opportunity,” Rear Admiral James Waters said in a statement.

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