Assuming they haven’t been prior enlisted, the current up-or-out rules will force officers out of the Navy at the following points:
- LT – separated if you fail to select twice
- LCDR – 20 years
- CDR – 28 years
- CAPT – 30 years
If an officer has prior enlisted time, the length of time you can stay in the military if you fail to promote is a complicated calculation and your Detailer is the best person to talk to about it.
One of the promotion reforms that has been recently discussed is a change to this up-or-out system. The argument in favor of the reform says that these rules force officers out of the military who both want to serve and possess valuable skill sets. In my experience, this can be true. I’ve seen physicians in undermanned specialties who wanted to stick around but could not due to these rules.
This article from Military Times gives you the details on how efforts to reform the up-or-out rules have stalled: