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Your Career

Serving With Forward Deployed Naval Forces

5 Things You Need to Know

Sailors looking to get the most from their career will find exciting opportunities and rewarding work while serving as part of Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) overseas. Comprised of ships, submarines, and aircraft squadrons, FDNF units are located in Japan, Guam, Bahrain, Spain, and Italy.

Here are five things Sailors need to know about the benefits of an FDNF assignment:

1. FDNF Sailors Promote at Higher Rates


Statistics from the most recent Navy Wide Advancement Cycle show that Sailors serving in FDNF units have a better opportunity to advance in every rank from E4 to E9, as compared to other Sailors across the Fleet.

Here are the percentage point differences during the last advancement cycle for FDNF Sailors as compared to their peers:

  • E3-E4: 14.7 percentage points higher

  • E4-E5: 8.7 percentage points higher

  • E5-E6: 2.6 percentage points higher

  • E6-E7: 2.7 percentage points higher

  • E7-E8: 0.9 percentage points higher

  • E8-E9: 6.3 percentage points higher

  • Every Sailor wants an advantage when it comes time to advance, and these stats show FDNF can provide just that.
    Three photo collage of FDNF areas.


    2. Financial Benefits


    Beyond promotions, there are also financial benefits to FDNF assignments. They include:

  • The Savings Deposit Program: Offered to service members serving in designated combat zones, this program allows Sailors to earn 10 percent annually on any balance up to $10,000. Accounts will continue to draw interest for 90 days once you've returned home or to your permanent duty station.

  • Overseas Cost of Living Allowance (COLA): A tax-free allowance offered at all FDNF locations. It is designed to offset the higher overseas prices of goods and services, and provides Sailors with the same purchasing power they would enjoy with their regular salaries in the United States.

  • Tax-Free Zones: These benefits are applied in some areas where FDNF Sailors serve. While in a designated combat zone, your entire pay can be excluded from taxable income. This can be several hundred dollars a month more in your pocket, and possibly a few thousand dollars over the course of a year.

  • 3. Travel and Leisure


    When you have time off, living overseas gives you the opportunity to see amazing places and have memorable experiences. For example, within a day's travel from these FDNF duty stations you can visit:

  • Rota, Spain: The Strait of Gibraltar, Christopher Columbus' tomb in the Seville Cathedral, the Prado National Museum in Madrid, or the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.

  • Yokosuka or Sasebo, Japan: Metropolitan Tokyo, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, or go skiing in Nagano.

  • The Middle East: The city of Dubai, the Burj Khalifa (world's tallest building), Petra in Jordan, or a beautiful resort in Oman.

  • Guam: Amazing snorkeling and diving, World War II historical sites, and it's close enough to visit Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore, and Australia.

  • Gaeta, Italy: Rome, the Vatican, Naples, Pompeii, Sicily, Florence, Bologna, Milan, Venice, and other European countries.


  • These destinations are as varied as the duty stations themselves, and all are available to those who seek them out.

    4. Continuing Education


    From most of these FDNF locations, you are in a prime position to take advantage of educational opportunities. Depending on the location, you can find a variety of distancing learning courses, including Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Examinations, the Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE), as well as help with Tuition Assistance. Learn more about what the Navy College Program offers Sailors: www.navycollege.navy.mil/.
    Three photo collage of FDNF areas.


    5. Challenging and Rewarding


    FDNF tours take Sailors to new lands and cultures and they often demand rigorous operational schedules. However, these tours can be richly rewarding for Sailors who seek a challenge. Living overseas can also be an opportunity of a lifetime for families and many FDNF locations allow dependents to accompany their Sailor.

    Personnel selected for these challenging jobs are required to undergo both an overseas and operational screening prior to receiving orders. These positions are competitive, but those who are selected will fill one of the 17,240 FDNF jobs.

    The Navy needs and rewards its best and brightest Sailors operating forward. Go FDNF!

    If interested in serving in an FDNF assignment, speak with your Command Career Counselor or detailer to see what opportunities are available for your specific community.