Holy crap, how is any of this relevant to someone off the street?We really do a shitty job in educating people on the mechanics of the Navy and Officer Recruiters are only incentivized to get people into slots to fill their quotas.
These said, it would really behoove you and anyone else interested in Navy Officer programs to read as much as possible to understand what you are seeking to accomplish. If you can master and understand this stuff, you will be well ahead of pretty much every one of your peers.
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- Promotion Board. An IP colleague of mine is the hands down expert on promotion boards. She gives this brief every year to all JO's on how promotion boards work and tie in all this stuff. It is here.
- Program Authorizations. Gives everyone an idea of what the Navy considers competitive at this moment in time. They are all here.
- Community Briefs. These are per FY for each selection board and are approved by the Secretary of the Navy for Active Duty officer communities. They are here.
- Community Health Brief (a/k/a drum beats). Probably the most valuable information you can read for each designator. Gives you a pulse on current gains and losses for the community (i.e., inventory of bodies taken from data from NOPPS and OAIS; See below), as well as historical. IMHO, I think these are valuable because if a community is healthy and well-manned or projected to be well-manned in a given year looking forward, the Navy will be less likely to entertain waivers or to lower standards to get more people into the community. Vice-versa if the community is not well-manned or projected to be not well-manned. Unfortunately, some communities' health briefs are easier to find than others, and are buried in each communities' PERS page. I've linked HR's directly so you can get an idea of what the brief contains: HR. Here is Where you want to go: Navy Personnel Command > Officer > Officer Detailing
Here is an example of the HR gains and losses. OPA is Officer Program Authorization, which I liked to above. You can see in the chart at the top right corner the current inventory by rank, the OPA from the previous two FY's. The follow on slides in their brief go on to tell you about manning and how to plug the holes.
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OP: when you imagine yourself being in the Navy, what do you see? Standing on the bridge wing of a DDG giving orders to the helm, looking through a periscope or running a nuclear reactor, landing an airplane on a boat at night? Or sitting in some dark room behind a vault door making ppt slides? Or sitting at a computer ordering left handed smoke shifters, FFV, pallets of soda, and flight line? Do you want Top Gun or Office Space (maybe on a boat)? Start there and don't worry about things like command at sea or any of this minutia that you will someday understand but is of zero consequence.
Navy, it's not just a job. It's a job on a boat.