New Aircrewman Opportunities in a Changing Environment

By Rear Adm. Kevin Whitesell
Assistant Commander, Navy Personnel Command

Unlike other Services which primarily equip people, our Navy must “man our equipment” — meaning we must continually work to find the right balance of skilled Sailors to operate improving technologies and platforms, especially when we introduce new ships, submarines, or aircraft.

Rear Adm. Kevin Whitesell, Assistant Commander, Navy Personnel Command

Rear Adm. Kevin Whitesell, Assistant Commander, Navy Personnel Command

This challenge is especially evident in the transition of legacy platforms, manned for decades by highly trained and skilled warfighters.  One prime example is in our Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) community.  As we move from the venerable P-3C Orion to the high-tech P-8A Poseidon, we usher in new opportunities for our people who have and will continue to write history.

Our Sailors from two long-serving and proud ratings, Aircrewman Avionics (AWV) and Aircrewman Mechanical (AWF) will be offered new opportunities which will keep them proficient in aircraft we need to operate until transition is complete, but at the same time provide options for their continued professional development and advancement.  Yes, we know this plan is long overdue — but wanted to take the needed time to get it right.

Working with the Air Boss and Community leadership, we developed a blended transition solution.  We’ll bridge the gap between return-to-source rating and continued support to existing AWF/AWV requirements — allowing us to meet mission, make transition possible, and provide these 800 or so Sailors with a viable “stay Navy” option and a bright future aligned with our proud past, based on merit.

This approach ensures transitioning P-3 squadrons are appropriately manned, and guarantees E-6 and C-2 squadrons will continue to get high quality and motivated AW Fs and Vs.  The plan factors in rating health by managing the number of conversion opportunities, keeping advancement opportunities competitive.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Nov. 15, 2014) A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft from to the Skinny Dragons of Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 conducts a fly-by with the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67).

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Nov. 15, 2014) A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft from to the Skinny Dragons of Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 conducts a fly-by with the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67).

 The “window” for a Sailor to make a career choice will still revolve around their projected rotation date (PRD); effectively one year out.  In the case of MPRA Sailors whose squadron is transitioning, they will be offered one of the following opportunities at the squadron transition conference — held one year from transition.

• MPRA Sailors will be affected most from their community transition.  They will choose from a menu of options to include AWF/AWV flying assignments (if available), or transition to source rate, or to the rate of their choice.

Airborne Command & Control Logistics Wing (ACCLOGWING) Sailors will stay within the AWF rate and transition to source rating after approval.  If no flying billet exists in ACCLOGWING, Sailors may apply for AWF flying billets in MPRA/E-6/UAS.

• Strategic Wing (STRATWING) Sailors will stay within the AWF/AWV rate and transition to source rating after approval.  If no flying billet exists in STRATWING, Sailor may apply for AWF/AWV flying billets in MPRA/ACCLOG/UAS.

• Reserve Forces (RESFOR) Sailors will stay within the AWF/AWV rate and transition once NEOCS is approved

• If at PRD and the Sailor desires transition to another rate (source rate or new rate), the Sailor will submit a Navy Personnel Action Request (NAVPERS 1306) for approval

As a last option, Sailors who choose not to take one of these conversion opportunities may be eligible for aircrew quotas identified in the Enlisted Early Transition Program (EETP).

Our goals are to balance the requirement to maintain community health, provide healthy advancement opportunities, and offer career choices that value and retain our best people for the future.  As more information becomes available, we’ll be sure to share it. Stay in touch with your detailers or go to your community management pages on the NPC website at www.npc.navy.mil to stay current with the latest conversion opportunities.

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New Aircrewman Opportunities in a Changing Environment