SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Command commemorated the creation of the new Special Warfare Operator (SO) and Special Warfare Boat Operator (SB) ratings in a ceremony Oct. 2 in Coronado, Calif.
The new ratings replace previous source ratings, which had been used to distinguish SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) by job classifications.
"When candidates made it through Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL school (BUD/S) and Basic Crewmember school, they were required to switch over to one of the chosen source ratings, such as gunner's mate and boatswain's mate," said Ronald Cooper, executive director for Naval Special Warfare Center for SEAL and SWCC.
For many years, the idea of having SEAL and SWCC ratings was discussed.
"It's been talked about for at least 20 years that I know of," Cooper said. "The problem was, the NSW community always advanced well under the previous rating system. It was always a concern about limiting our advancement if we went to a new rating. Once we resolved that, the new ratings were looked at a little more favorably."
"With what this community is doing in combat, we no longer had the luxury to take people out of their primary job and send them somewhere else," said Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire, commander, Naval Special Warfare Command. "We no longer had the luxury to be anything else besides SEALs and SWCC."
To help focus on the professional development and career management within SEAL and SWCC ratings, Naval Personnel Development Command and Naval Special Warfare Command commissioned the Naval Special Warfare Center for SEAL and SWCC.
The center's first task was to create the SO and SB ratings by submitting a NEOS (Navy Enlisted Occupational Standards) package. By establishing new ratings, the NSW community could now lay out prerequisites for SEAL and SWCC advancement. SOs and SBs would also be able to take advancement exams relating specifically to their rate rather than other source ratings.
"We're looking at the continued long term health of the community, so SEALs and SWCC being able to take advancement exams in their own jobs is significant for us," Cooper said.
The new ratings will also allow SEALs and SWCC to have advancement boards composed of special warfare peers.
"Now we will have our own specific panel of SEAL, SWCC, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), and Divers to look solely at members of those communities," Cooper said. "When we're looking at the records of these individuals, we can scrutinize more thoroughly."
All active duty graduates of BUD/s and Basic Crewmember School officially became SOs and SBs, Oct. 1. Navy Reserve members who are E-5 and below must wait until April 1, 2007, for the changes to affect them.
The Naval Special Warfare Center, which trains SEAL and SWCC candidates, will become an "A" school for SO and SB ratings. Students who graduate from their NSW "A" school will be advanced to E-4 and will receive their SO or SB ratings. Upon completion of further advanced training, SEALs and SWCC will receive their warfare designations.
"There's a lot of apprehension right now because we're going to something new," Cooper said. "We'll probably have to reevaluate the ratings after a couple years, and readjust if need be, but I think overall it's going to be a benefit to the whole community."
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