My Decision to Navigate the LDO Off-Ramp Initiative

BY LT. MADELEINE FUENTES, SC, USN, ENS/LDO
DETAILER, OFFICE OF SUPPLY CORPS PERSONNEL,
NAVAL SUPPLY SYSTEMS COMMAND

Lt. Madeleine Fuentes

In 2013, the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) Officer Community Manager (OCM), in conjunction with the Supply Corps, began the LDO Off-Ramp Sustainability Initiative. Under this initiative, Supply LDOs (6510 designator billets) had the opportunity to convert to 3100 billets, with a focus on providing continued career progression opportunity for the LDO community. There are two ways for LDOs to convert from 6510 to 3100 depending on an officer’s paygrade. LDOs in the paygrade of lieutenant and below have the opportunity to convert through the lateral transfer/re-designation process, while officers in the paygrade of lieutenant commander and above have the opportunity to convert utilizing the without board action process.

In a lot of ways, the LDO program (6510 designator) has become another accession source for the 3100 community. When considering becoming a LDO, applicants must also decide if converting to 3100 is their ultimate goal. If you wait to decide until you have already completed several LDO tours, it could be too late.

The lateral conversion process from 6510 to 3100 is more than a transition; it is a personal decision by officers looking for career enhancing opportunities that will lead to a successful naval career. The three questions I asked myself before submitting my LDO conversion package were:

  1. Does my record meet the 3100 career progression requirements?
  2. When do I want to retire?
  3. At what rank do I want to retire?

After discussing these questions with my family, I was certain the transition to 3100 was the right choice. Instead of viewing the lateral transfer process as a force-shaping tool, I saw my transition as an exciting opportunity to obtain new functional skills and experiences within a much wider range of logistics fields that I will carry with me throughout my career and into the civilian workforce. Indeed, the LDO Off-Ramp Initiative affords access to opportunities to gain experience in primary Supply Corps lines of operation that were not previously available to LDOs.

Typical with most challenges, officers may be apprehensive about making the transition from 6510 to 3100. Taking the first step is always the most difficult due to the uncertainties of making the change and the potential for stepping outside your comfort zone. However, if your record demonstrates sustained superior performance throughout your commissioned service, you have earned a bachelor’s degree, and you have consciously pursued a traditional 3100 career path – two operational assignments including a strongly encouraged department head afloat or expeditionary tour, a challenging shore duty – then you have an excellent opportunity to expand your career options as a 3100 Supply Corps officer.

I admit the transition process was intimidating. I had fears that I would face a steep learning curve, but I chose to accept the challenges in pursuit of achieving my personal and professional goals. It was not an easy decision, but with persistence, training, dedication, and the support of my family, I pushed forward with determination, meeting the required milestones while remaining competitive for the next rank.

At the 2017 OP Roadshow, Capt. Marty Fields discusses how “Today’s LDO is not the same as yesterday’s LDO.” Over the past three years, the flexibility and opportunity for 6510 LDOs to serve in 3100 billets has significantly grown. Today’s LDO is eligible to apply for many operational and shore duty billets (internships and department head tours) that were previously only available to 3100s. Additionally, once an LDO converts to 3100, he or she has the opportunity to attend postgraduate school or one of the service’s war colleges, gain Defense Acquisition Workforce certification, become a member of the Acquisition Professional Community, and become a full Joint Qualified Officer. As a tool for career progression, LDOs interested in conversion should review the Supply Community Brief (available in the eSUPPO app), which provides clear guidance on career progression milestones from O1 through O6. Today’s LDOs must meet the critical 3100 milestones to remain competitive for promotion beyond the rank of lieutenant.

Now that I have transitioned to 3100, I will continue to strengthen my professional résumé by utilizing the tools available to our community. My goal is to have a service record and career that tells a story of successful transition and evolution from junior enlisted through chief petty officer, to a commission as an LDO, and finally as a competitive 3100 Supply Corps officer.

The Navy provides Sailors with extensive opportunities to pursue advancement, education, and professional development. The decision to transition from 6510 to 3100 is one such example of how career- minded, driven Sailors and officers can continue to excel.

May/June 2017