GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Naval Station (NAVSTA) Guantanamo (GTMO) Bay "Mustangs" held a forum at NAVSTA Bulkeley Hall Auditorium for Sailors interested in applying to limited duty officer (LDO) and chief warrant officer (CWO) programs.
The term "Mustang" refers to officers who are commissioned from the Navy's enlisted ranks through in-service procurement programs, with no interruption of active-duty service.
"There is nothing easy about [being an LDO/CWO)]," said Lt. Cmdr. Lareava Meschino, NAVSTA GTMO port operations officer. "It is a passion about it. There is nothing more exciting [than being an LDO.] I am here today to create more of us," said Meschino. "That is what this brief is about. Our relief is you."
Although the forum was sponsored by NAVSTA GTMO, many officers from several commands in GTMO sat on this year's panel.
"There are two-hundred ten years of combined naval experience among the officers giving this brief," said Cmdr. Jeff Hayhurst, Joint Detention Group GTMO commanding officer. He emphasized that a commission is not easy to come by.
"I will not cheapen the community. You will either earn selection to the LDO/CWO program through endorsements and appraisals, or you don't," said Hayhurst.
Among the officers present at the brief was Cmdr. Paul Mitchell, NAVSTA executive officer who said that going to sea and taking the "tough assignments" was a surefire way to make an LDO/CWO package stand out.
"It's never too early to start a package," said Mitchell. "Junior Sailors who are looking to someday join the LDO/CWO ranks should start tailoring their careers now to prime them for selection."
The forum facilitators said that acceptance rates for both programs vary from year to year, but there are a few things applicants can do to make themselves more competitive.
"Look three tours out and apply early and often," said Cmdr. Toby Swain, NAVSTA GTMO supply officer. "Hard work and hard duty help make you a more desirable candidate. Make sure you enjoy whatever it is you are doing and [the program you are] applying for, because if you are not, don't bother."
The LDO/CWO community makes up approximately 11 percent of the total officer force throughout the Navy.
First class petty officers through master chief petty officers can apply to the LDO/CWO programs upon fulfilling minimum program eligibility requirements. Those applying for LDO are required to have completed at least eight years, but not more than 16 years of active duty service.
Applicants applying for CWO are required to be a chief petty officer and have completed at least 12 years but no more than 24 years of active-duty service before applying to the program.
While these programs are the only officer commissioning programs that do not require applicants to posses a baccalaureate degree, they require career experience - which many consider invaluable practical knowledge.
According to OPNAVINST 1420.1A, limited duty officers are technical managers who perform duties limited to specific occupational fields. These officers come from almost every enlisted rating.
Chief warrant officers are technical specialists who perform duties requiring extensive knowledge and skills of a specific occupational field at a level beyond what are normally expected of a master chief petty officer. NAVSTA GTMO currently has two chief warrant officers on board.
"It took me four tries before I was selected as a warrant officer," said Chief Warrant Officer Michael Lane, NAVSTA GTMO weapons officer. "Sustained superior performance is important, as well as making yourself visible and positive to your command."
He said the most important thing to remember is to be consistent. It pays off.
According to Lane, applicants should take a long, hard look at their evaluations and "tweak" their packages early and often.
Board members explained that prior to submitting an application to the LDO/CWO programs, applicants also need to consider if they are willing and able to be stationed anywhere in the world.
"While it is not a requirement to be worldwide assignable, it is part of the criteria when applying to any officer program," said Lt. Robert Trujillo, NAVSTA administration officer. "There [are] instances where there are critical assignments [officer detailers] need to fill, so it is essential that you are worldwide assignable and can make those hard tours as well as those nice to have tours."
Trujillo said gaps in billets decrease the level of output a command can produce, which is why the Navy places emphasis on a candidate's deployability.
To find out more information about the specifics of the LDO/CWO programs visit the Boards section at the Navy Personnel Command Web site at www.npc.navy.mil/Boards/Administrative/LDOCWO/.
For more news from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, visit www.navy.mil/local/guantanamo/.