You Were Selected for Promotion to O5 or O6 – Should You Accept It?

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BLUF – If you are hoping to retire but are not willing to serve 3 years as a Commander or Captain, you should decline the promotion.  (This is not applicable if you are resigning.  Only if you are hoping to retire.)

The policy regarding promotions and retirements is governed by OPNAVINST 1811.3A.  If you are lucky enough to be selected for promotion to O5 or O6, you should be familiar with this instruction and make sure you are willing to spend 3 years as a CDR or CAPT before you plan to retire.

Paragraph 4b of the OPNAVINST states:

“Officers must satisfy the minimum active duty time-in-grade requirement to retire in the highest grade satisfactorily served…Officers who desire to retire before completion of the minimum time-in-grade requirement must decline appointment to the next higher grade. Officers who have accepted appointment to the next higher grade must satisfy the retired grade criteria in paragraph 7.”

Seems like we need to go to paragraph 7…

“7. Time-in-Grade Requirements. Unless retirement in the next inferior grade is directed by SECNAV for an officer or warrant officer under reference (c), then officers, warrant officers, and enlisted members retired voluntarily or transferred to the Fleet Reserve shall be retired in the highest grade satisfactorily held upon completion of the following time-in-grade requirements…Three years for an officer serving on active duty in pay grade O5 or O6.”

Paragraph 5b states:

“Unless waived by proper authority, approval of requests for voluntary retirement or transfer to the Fleet Reserve will normally be denied until an individual has completed: (1) The applicable time-in-grade requirements of paragraph 7;”

In addition, paragraph 7e states:

“COMNAVPERSCOM shall normally deny retirement requests or Fleet Reserve requests of members serving on active duty in, whose length of service in the highest grade held while on active duty does not meet the time-in-grade requirements specified above.”

What’s the bottom line?  There are certain exceptions spelled out in this policy, and you can get information on time-in-grade or next-lower-grade waivers here and here, but if you want to retire and accept promotion to CDR or CAPT you should be willing to serve in that rank for 3 years.  Otherwise, you should decline the promotion.

4 thoughts on “You Were Selected for Promotion to O5 or O6 – Should You Accept It?

    John said:
    May 18, 2017 at 09:13

    Hi Joel, Just a point of clarification here as there seems to be some confusion regarding this post. The 3 year requirement only applies to retirement and not separations correct? When an officer accepts promotion to O5 or O6 the agree to remain on active duty for at least 12 more months & then are free to separate if they so choose.


      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      May 18, 2017 at 11:07

      This is for retirements, not resignations. I updated the post, and hopefully it is clearer now. Sorry for the confusion.

      I’m unaware of any obligation by accepting the promotion unless you intend to retire. I could be wrong, though. If you have a reference for your claim that you are agreeing to stay on AD for 12 months, I’d like to see it. I think you can just resign whenever your obligation is up and you’ve met the required time-on-station.


    […] The NAVADMIN is below and here if you want to read it, but what is the short story? The Navy is growing, and they’re not going to let you out early anymore. In other words, if you want to RETIRE (not resign) as a CDR or CAPT, you are going to have to serve your full 3 years in that rank before they’ll let you out. You can read more details in this post. […]


    […] accept it – Why would someone not accept a promotion? Because a promotion to O5 or O6 obligates you for 3 more years if you intend to retire. And the Navy isn’t letting anyone get out early anymore. If you want […]


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