The Navy, on average, commissions nearly twice as many SWOs each year as it needs to fill junior SWO positions on ships, leaving these newbies to compete for ship driving time or other hands-on experience needed to be a good surface warfare officer, according to both the GAO and several SWOs who spoke to Navy Times.
From fiscal 2017 to 2021, GAO found that the Navy commissioned an average of 946 SWO ensigns a year, exceeding the number of required ensigns by about 85 percent.
For example, the destroyer Mustin averaged 18 SWO trainees aboard the ship when it only required six during the first quarter of 2020, while the cruiser Monterey averaged 21 such trainees when it only had eight slots, according to GAO.
I don't know how that can work.
Let's take a typical destroyer back in the day. It might have three or four division officers in each of the three departments. So that was nine to twelve officers. There were three department heads, one XO and one CO. Because of difference in tour length, those officers had about five department head slots available, two or so XO slots and about 1.3 CO slots available. So if half of the baby SWOs stayed in, there would be plenty available to fill the department head pipeline.
The thing was, those baby SWOs all had meaningful jobs. They were division officers, learning how to lead people and manage material. They weren't doing assistant anything. Their primary job wasn't wardroom party planner or ship's PAO or photographer-- if they were, they were major-league fuckups.
"We eat our young" has been the unofficial motto of the SWO community since forever. Now, it seems to be official policy.
No wander morale sucks even worse than it once did.