One Team, One Fight: Understanding Enlisted Career Paths is Vital for the Entire Supply Community

By Karla Gabel, Office of Supply Corps Personnel,
Naval Supply Systems Command

As more Supply Corps officers now sit on enlisted selection boards, it is important for officers to understand each enlisted career path in order to make wise selections. We must choose the right Sailors to be our future senior enlisted leaders.

Enlisted Selection Boards

According to LSCM Stephanie Tuttle, “Selection boards exist to pick those Sailors we believe have the requisite experience and performance to fulfill leadership positions in the next higher paygrade. As always, board members should look for sustained superior performance in challenging billets…choosing the right Sailors to be our next Leading Chief Petty Officers (LCPO), Division Leading Chief Petty Officers (DLCPO), and potential Command Master Chiefs (CMDCM) is critical to the success of our community.”

Enlisted Ratings and Career Paths

The career path for each rating is a great tool for Sailors to follow in order to be successful in their careers. It provides them with a guide for sea/shore flow, job positions, and qualifications. Understanding the career paths provides Supply Corps officers with a better understanding of each rating.

Culinary Specialist (CS) Rating

Culinary Specialists (CSs) are needed on every ship and shore base in the Navy. Everyone has to eat!

The CS Learning and Development Roadmap (LaDR) provides a great overview of the rating. It states, “Culinary Specialists operate and manage Navy messes and living quarters established to subsist and accommodate Navy personnel. They prepare menus, manage and account for subsistence inventories and prepare and maintain financial records. It is commonly accepted that the “mess decks” or dining areas aboard ships are the “Heart of the ship” and the role CSs play in the morale of the ship is very important. CSs are needed on every ship and shore base in the Navy. Navy CSs provide food service for admirals and senior government executives. Career paths should include diverse assignments ashore and afloat that enhance culinary skills and leadership abilities and promote the future success of the rate by developing junior Sailors.”

According to CSCM Garfield Christie, “It is important for our Supply Corps officers to understand the sea/shore flow of our CSs, and to observe closely that an eligible CS up for advancement is going to sea when he or she has the opportunity based on their rotation. I have to believe that every experience in Food Service (ashore or afloat) is valuable to maintain the technical acumen and expertise in the CS rating.”

“While assigned to sea duty, a chief culinary specialist (CSC) must be an LCPO, cargo chief, mess deck master at arms (MDMAA) LCPO, qualified officer of the deck (OOD), section leader, damage control training team (DCTT) member or other training team member, while running a successful food service operation. At a minimum, a CS1 should have a divisional or departmental collateral duty such as training petty officer, mentorship coordinator, or sponsor coordinator because they are always doing one or all each day,” stated Christie.

It is important for CSs to take advantage of continuing education, either online or in the classroom. Doing so shows an initiative to gain knowledge, and adds value to their roles as leaders.

For a CS to be strongly considered for advancement, a consistent sea/shore rotation is vital unless they are in a flag billet, which moves them to various shore to shore billets. “The perception out there is ‘the more command involvement, the better,’ but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When a CSC or CSCS is heavily involved in his or her division and department, taking on a collateral duty is encouraged as long as he or she can maintain balance in their primary job while making a difference in their command,” explained Christie.

A common misconception in the CS/supply community is that you must be at sea as a CSC or CSCS to be considered for advancement to the next pay grade. There are challenging ashore assignments in need of highly motivated CSs who have maintained a steady sea/shore rotation.

“Every CS1, CSC, CSCS, and CSCM should be the technical expert and should always be heavily involved in the operation of a food service operation and the training of other culinary specialists,” stated Christie.

While important for Supply Corps officers to look at an enlisted Sailor’s leadership and management abilities, it is also important to consider that Sailor’s in rate technical expertise.

Logistics Specialist (LS) Rating

Logistics Specialists (LSs) provide support to surface, subsurface, and aviation platforms, as well shore locations. LSs manage inventories of repair parts and general supplies that support Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), United States Naval Construction Force (Seabees), postal operations, and the Special Warfare communities. LSs are also assigned to Marine Corps units, Reserve centers, recruiting centers, and staff commands. They procure, receive, store, and issue material and repair components. They operate Navy post offices, finance windows, sort and distribute all official and personal mail, and use financial accounting programs and databases.

According to LSCM Matthew Stockdale, “We are truly worldwide assignable. We provide global logistical support and are constantly resolving supply chain management challenges that arise. We move critical parts, mail, cargo, hazardous material (HAZMAT), and anything else a deployed command might need. The LS duties at the senior level provide input and solutions to the logistical challenges that occur. We keep a pulse on the fleet and forecast logistical needs to ensure mission success, and address any concerns that develop over time.”

“Supply Corps officers sitting on a selection board need to understand all of the communities associated with the rating. Reviewing the career path periodically will help them truly understand just how large the rating is, and how to guide sailors under their care when a senior enlisted member is currently not assigned or the billet is gapped. We are looking for the best Sailors out there who are fully-qualified technical experts who can be counted on to take our place,” said Stockdale. “Understanding what is expected on a second or third sea tour will help them identify candidates that should be considered for promotion.”

When asked how the LS rating has changed in recent years, Stockdale responded, “In recent years the rating has become challenging because we have merged three ratings into one: Aviation Storekeeper, Postal Clerk, and Storekeeper. We have embraced the Ready Relevant Learning (RRL) concept and the Sailor 2025 concept. In doing this, we have realized the areas that needed attention. This has been an ongoing process and will pay dividends in the future. We have taken input from every community’s subject matter expert and have collectively provided input on what the expectations are of a first term LS joining the ranks. The “A” School curriculum is being adjusted and updated, as well as the “C” school curriculum.”

“We are continuing to look for areas of improvement and provide feedback to these working groups in order to make the rating better. The rating as a whole is facing more challenges as we bring new ships and aircraft online. These new platforms will bring more modernization to the rate and how we operate. We are going to become a more technically sound rate and be more efficient at what we do,” said Stockdale.

Ship’s Serviceman (SH) Rating

After 75 years, the Ship’s Serviceman (SH) rating will soon have a name more in line with the ratings modernization – Retail Service Specialist (RS). According to CMDCM (SW/AW) Thaddeus Wright, this change is expected to take place in 2019.

SHs are responsible for managing and operating all shipboard retail and service activities, including ship’s stores, vending machines, coffee kiosks, barber shops, and laundry operations. They play a large role in the morale of the ship. SHCM Monique Chatman stated, “SH stands for Super Heros! They exceed the basic requirements placed before them, with minimum manning onboard certain naval vessels.”

“The SH rating has always been pretty consistent with the job task at hand. However, within the last couple of years it has slightly shifted, assuming more responsibility into the Culinary Specialist (CS) community, operating hotel services onboard certain carriers. Supply Corps officers participating on selection boards may notice potential E6s and above either being the leading petty officer (LPO) or leading manager of the S-5 Division. This is a major operation that entails a lot of responsibility and accountability onboard various carriers, nonetheless, board members should focus on written results and take into consideration how well that leader or manager operated outside their rate. Additionally, SHs tend to function and perform postal clerk or custodian of postal effects (COPE) duties onboard certain naval platforms, while maintaining and fulfilling SH shipboard requirements,” said Chatman.

The sea/shore rotation for the SH rating is different from the rotation for CSs and LSs, and because of this, there are a limited number of shore billets for SHs. An SH may do back-to-back sea tours, which could be viewed as, “a Sailor not following their sea/shore flow” by the board, however, this should not hinder a candidate’s selection for advancement. Currently, SHs are forced to take very general billets or isolated billets that may be grouped as “one of one” or “two of one.” “These vital shore billets are the stakeholders of the SH rating, such as preparing publications and manuals, training future Supply Corps officers, and directing and providing training for the Ship’s Serviceman community,” said Chapman. She continued, “often the subject matter experts (SMEs) on the board tend to push aside the three isolated billets on the San Clemente, San Nicolas and Diego Garcia islands. These billets are often hard to fill due to being viewed as career killers, however, they are very unique, demanding, and it takes a strong manager to operate the ship’s store for the entire base.”

According to Chatman, “These Sailors are not ranked out against big periodic groups. The ranking is often viewed unfavorably and does not allow room to retrieve a hard or soft break out.” She recommends that board members keep this in mind as they review the evaluations and select the best and most fully qualified candidate that warrants the promotion.

Supply Enlisted Roadshows

A great way for Supply Corps officers to learn more about the enlisted career paths and issues facing the community is to attend an enlisted roadshow.

Roadshows provide enlisted Sailors with the ability to meet face-to-face with detailers and learn the current status of our force from the enlisted community managers. Sailors learn about career planning and advancement opportunities, including special programs. At the end of each roadshow, Sailors are given the opportunity to privately address concerns or ask questions they may not feel comfortable asking in a group setting. Enlisted Sailors are highly encouraged to attend these events.

By attending enlisted roadshows, Supply Corps officers can learn how to support enlisted Sailors in their careers and help the Navy as a whole. One team, one fight.

An overview of each rating and career path can be found in the “It’s Your Career” section on the eSUPPO app and on the Supply Enlisted Ratings Community Manager page on the Navy Personnel Command website at the following URL: https://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/enlisted/community/supply/Pages/default2.aspx

Spring 2019