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.