Restricted line and staff corps officers

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by stella, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. stella

    stella Member

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    "Midshipmen not physically qualified to serve in the unrestricted line but who can be commissioned as active duty officers may choose from a wide variety of alternatives and pursue a career. Restricted line and staff corps officers may choose careers in the fields of intelligence, information warfare, information professional, oceanography, medicine, civil engineering, supply and aviation maintenance..." (from a defense.gov publication)

    What makes one not physically qualified to serve in the unrestricted line? Aside from possibly gender, what would cause someone to be able to graduate from USNA (or other service academy) but unable to serve fully?

    Also, can one choose/be assigned to a restricted line ONLY if they are unable to serve in the unrestricted line?

    Thanks--
    S
     
  2. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Gender has nothing to do with it. The issue is medical.

    There are all sorts of reasons people are NPQ. Some that I recall are: psoriasis, blown out knee, severe allergies, and vision. One of my classmates was NPQ for air due to terrible eyes (not even NFO ready), NPQ for subs due to allergies, and NPQ for surface due to two broken ankles that didn't sufficiently heal.

    Prior to 1993, women who were physically qualified were allowed to (and had to in most cases) select restricted line or staff corps b/c there were not sufficient unrestricted line billets due to "combat" restrictions. Many women also selected "General Unrestricted Line" which were generally staff jobs, such as admin officers. Once combat restrictions were lifted men and women could only select restricted line/staff corps if they were NPQ for unrestricted line. So physically qualified women and men had to select air, surface, subs (recently for women) pilot/NFO or USMC plus a few others open only to men such as SEAL and EOD.

    In roughly the past year or two, USNA has allowed those who are not NPQ to compete for unrestricted line/staff billets. However, there are very few of those and competition can be fierce. Obviously, those who are NPQ must still select unrestricted/staff billets.
     
  3. stella

    stella Member

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    Thank you for the very thorough explaination. It seems that the term 'restricted line' appears in USNA and West Point info, but not in USAFA info. Wondering now if the air force gives a wider 'choice' even for those who are without restriction? Not sure if I am asking this clearly but, in sum, for someone interested more in something such as human resources (just as an example), is it correct that air force academy would be the way to go, as the other academies may not let that be an option if they are healthy enough to serve in other ways?
    S
     
  4. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    They primary purpose of having a "restricted" or "unrestricted" line officer is one of authority and accountability. Unrestricted means that one is able to assume command of a unit, while restricted means that one cannot do this. For instance, you wouldn't want the temporary Commanding Officer (in some emergency) of a ship to be someone who isn't familiar with how to operate a ship, or be in charge of an army ground unit. The Air Force separates its officers into two different categories: rated vs non-rated. Rated officers are those who fly (pilots, CSO, RPA, ABM), and those who don't (non-flying jobs). In the Coast Guard, all of our officers are considered unrestricted line officers.
     
  5. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Actually, in the USN, restricted line/staff officers can and do have command. For example, an intel officer would command an intel unit. A supply officer would command a supply unit. A medical service corps or medical corps officer commands a hospital (or other medical unit). What they can't do is have "command at sea." So, even if the most senior officer on an aircraft carrier is an intel officer, he/she would not be able to take command of that ship.

    In the USN, "restricted" and "unrestricted" have nothing whatsoever to do with accountability and authority. All officers have both. As noted above, it has to do with what you are qualified to command. It's not a "lesser" status to be a restricted/staff corps officer -- the USN could not function without them. It's just that their career paths do not prepare them to command "fighting" units; rather, they command units in line with their speciality. I would add that a pilot would not be put in command of a hospital or a supply depot.
     
  6. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    You're right. I should have made it clearer that I was referring to authority/accountability at sea and command of the war fighting/operational fields.

    And you're right: being staff isn't a lesser status. Everyone contributes in their own way :thumb:
     
  7. navyasw02

    navyasw02 Member

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    stella - you can also do your time as an unrestricted line officer coming out of USNA and transfer into restricted line. Generally, you have to complete your division officer tour and then you can request a transfer around the time your initial service commitment ends. Restricted line also includes the human resources community that you mentioned in your earlier post. If you're interested in pursuing a restricted line community as an end result of your career, dont be under the impression that the unrestricted line assignment you choose coming out of a service academy will be your job forever if you dont want.
     
  8. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    I would never completely rely on a lateral transfer (i.e. permission to change communities) to be successful in one's favor. I would ALWAYS recommend being comfortable or adaptable to the community one is currently in, because there are a lot of times Sailors are not selected. It definitely IS possible and happens, I just wouldn't go selecting a community with the assumption that you are an automatic "shoe in" for the community you want into.

    Also, there are working groups looking into whether the traditional Unrestricted vs. Restricted Line definitions need to change, given the different world we live in today.
     
  9. navyasw02

    navyasw02 Member

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    Good point. Have to have backup plans for lateral transfer.
     
  10. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    You don't have to pull punches :shake: We know our collars are little lighter with some funky leaf or other design on one side.
     
  11. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    And for those who don't believe this, try going into battle without supplies (fuel, ammo, food) or medics . . .
     
  12. navyasw02

    navyasw02 Member

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    I never understood how Seabee officers are considered staff corps. Thats the one group that seems far more combat oriented than the rest of the staff corps. If anything, they should be line officers.
     
  13. stella

    stella Member

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    One More Question!

    This thread has been of great help. I realized, however, that I did not type the second part of my question correctly. It should have read...

    Also, can one choose/be assigned to restricted line options ONLY if they are fully ABLE to serve in the unrestricted line? (Or, if you are able to serve as unrestricted line should you expect to do so?)

    Thanks!
    S
     
  14. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Can only speak to the USN and USNA. Coming out of USNA, you now can compete for a restricted line/staff corp billet even if you are fully qualified for unrestricted line. However, these billets are one and two per community so about 99% of those physically qualified will serve in an unrestricted line community.
     
  15. navyasw02

    navyasw02 Member

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    Another possibility is a transfer option. My community (engineering duty) is doing it. Basically if you have a technical undergrad and get good grades, you have the option to automatically go into the engineering duty community, no questions asked, after your initial sea tour for SWOs and DH tour for subs. They didnt have that when I was going through so I only know the basics, but that's something you might want to look into.
     
  16. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    Yes, the option program is available for numerous restricted line communities. However, as it was not explicitly clear from the above post, you must be SELECTED for this option from the commissioning source. If one isn't selected for this program, then they have to go through the regular lateral transfer board. As posted above, the option allows you to "skip" the lateral transfer board.
     

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