USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The Navy's Limited Duty Officer (LDO) and Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) community managers visited the deployed aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) May 12-14 to give briefs on the status of the community and to brief applicants looking to become Mustang officers.
Capt. John Jones and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mitch Allen met with the almost 100 Mustangs aboard the ship to convey the changes in store for one of the Navy's most unique officer communities.
In several three-hour meetings, the community managers explained how some initiatives were being discussed that will dramatically change the career paths of the community. They discussed the possibility that promotion will soon be designator specific in an effort to realign billet structures to best help the Navy fill these key positions of technical leadership.
Currently, LDOs and CWOs are promoted within their own community across designators. This means that, for example, an administration LDO competes with an Ordnance LDO to promote to O-4, regardless of whether or not the Navy needs one or the other to fill an O-4 billet.
The new rules would be changed to promote within the respective designators, similar to the other officer communities, so that an administration LDO would compete with other administration LDOs for the promotion and thereby promote to fill an existing billet that the Navy needed.
Another change in the works is a restructuring of the LDO/CWO billets in an effort to better align the force. The LDO community would be pared down by almost 25 percent, and the CWO community would be increased by approximately 26 percent in an effort to focus the community toward supporting the line officer communities in the division officer role.
The promotion-by-designator and billet restructure will increase the chances of promotion for all and increase the number of O-6 and CWO5 billets in the respective communities thereby creating healthy promotion opportunities across the board.
Another key change in the works is the idea to allow for LDO "off-ramps" at the senior O-3 level allowing the LDO to attend graduate school and then change designators to their respective line community to continue their career. This provides line officer community managers tested and experienced Mustang officers in the line communities at the time when they will have up to 10 years as a commissioned officer.
"We came up with this idea in my office after talking to the chief of naval personnel who expressed concern that our current billet structure was not efficient," said Jones. "We have pitched this 'off-ramp' idea to several line communities and have had 100 percent success in showing them that this just makes sense. It brings the Mustang community back to our roots of supporting the line communities because that's how we came about."
LDOs, which were created during World War II, are prior-enlisted officers that have a technical skills other officers don't have due to their previous enlisted training and experience, allowing them to provide valuable expertise to units and commands where tailored leadership is needed. LDOs are selected and promoted primarily based upon their technical leadership and are not constrained by the same formal education milestones of traditional officers.
Similarly, CWOs are prior chief petty officers who remain even more technically specialized and are placed in leadership billets that require an officer to have a complete and robust understanding of the technical aspect of the systems and equipment they are responsible for.
"Having our community managers come to the ship while we are deployed really shows the dedication they have to us as Mustangs," said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Topping, the ship's administrative officer and host of the visit. "We have a lot of changes coming to our community, and it's nice to hear firsthand that our community managers are making such a difference. These changes are very positive."
Jones and Allen also took time to conduct applicant briefs for Enterprise Sailors interested in becoming Mustang officers. The briefs talked the applicants through the accession process and explained what the community is looking for in a new Mustang.
LDOs and CWOs are called 'Mustang' officers in reference to the mustang horse that isn't a 'thoroughbred' in the same way that an officer who never served enlisted time is. Mustangs take pride in their previous enlisted experience and are relied on by the line communities to give straightforward, often blunt, feedback with technical insight to help solve issues.
For news regarding Enterprise Strike Group's deployment, visit the USS Enterprise Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USS.Enterprise.CVN.65.
For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.