Just as @usna1985
says, there are
discussions/communications with the detailer before orders are cut. The “detailing window” is usually 6 months out from end of current orders projected rotation date (PRD), so discussions occur prior to that. Once orders are cut, the officer is usually obligated to complete them. They should not be a surprise. “Should,” operative word. When you get more senior, things can happen, but in a good way. I was supposed to have a 3-year tour as the XO of a large SIMA (ship repair activity), but the detailer called me, told me they were moving me at the 2-year mark, as I had done everything I needed to do, career block check-wise, to a bigger role locally, for 2 years, and it was a “by-name” call (a flag officer asks for you). A USNA sponsor family alumna had just completed her O-5 command at sea tour, very successful, had just settled into her new duty at Newport, RI, great job, beautiful big quarters overlooking the water, we were making plans to go up and stay - and she calls me one night and says “the detailer called me, I’m in a package [short list of proposed officers] to be the senior military aide for Undersecretary of the Navy. Undersecretary is visiting Newport in 2 days and wants to meet me. Admiral X specifically got me sent to this set of orders. What do I do next?” I coached her to call all her most senior SWO mentors, including the Admiral who had influenced the Newport assignment, plus go see her current CO, who had already had a heads-up. Her mentors and CO uniformly supported her for the role and coached her on “this is how it can happen for pack-plus officers,” though her CO pretty much said “dang,” knowing he faced a potential gap on his staff until a new officer could be ordered in. She got tapped for the job and reported 3 weeks later to the Pentagon, about 4 months after she got to Newport. Two tours later, she is now in major command at sea, deployed, loving her life. BTW, she was a “regular mid,” top third of her class, held a company striper position (Ops, she was a natural), was varsity team manager for her HS sport, because she loved being around it. These examples are way down the road, but JOs will learn from their chain of command and peers a year or two ahead, how it works. Communication well in advance of the detailing window when orders are cut is the key.
Now, if an officer says, 10-12 months before PRD, I plan to resign my commission about a year from now, a deal might be worked out where they are extended in the same job and PRD pushed out to match planned separation date, or they are assigned locally for a one-year set of orders (saves PCS move money), but that won’t happen until the officer submits the formal separation request.
We had a USNA sponsor daughter who decided she did not want to continue and go to dept head school and back to sea, knowing this was SWO career suicide, but wanted to stay on AD the 36 months SA grads have to do past their initial ADSO, so she could qualify for 100% of her Post-9/11 GI Bill veteran education benefit. When the timing was right, she told her chain of command, was properly counseled on consequences and motivation, and she contacted her detailer. Now, I did advise her to try to negotiate for any set of shore duty orders in CONUS, just to make logistics easier when it came time to separate. She got an extension in her current job ashore and then a 2-year set of orders to Bahrain on a staff there. Those particular orders aren’t career-builder roles, but the detailer has those jobs to fill as well, when the placement officers (placement serves the command, keeping them staffed) send around a “must fill, any line officer LT” billet. She was single, no kids, enjoyed the job and close community there in Bahrain, took refresher courses for her grad degree plans, applied to graduate schools, got out, went straight to Syracuse U MBA program, paying no tuition, with a living allowance, taking advantage of other scholarships and home state vet benefits. She is doing well in her civilian career, and she was promoted to LCDR in the Reserves, where she is also doing well.
It’s a two-way street where “needs of the Navy” will be the trump card every time, but seeking out career advice and being proactive with the detailer, and sustained superior performance (this is the leverage!), are how an officer navigates orders and career decisions.