High Year Of Tenure In The US Military

This period is also known as the retention control point

U.S. Army Conducts Promotion Ceremony in Babil Province
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In the military, throughout the career of a soldier, airman, Marine, or sailor, members are expected to advance in rank and pay grade every few years. An enlisted person must be promoted within certain time frames during their career, or they must separate from the service. This is known as the "High Year of Tenure" (HYT). The Army High Year of Tenure program is called the retention control point

As long as you are not neglecting your duties and have not been in serious trouble, an enlisted person with more than six years of service and less than 20 years of service (retirement eligible) who is involuntarily separated (under honorable conditions) is entitled to receive involuntary separation pay (severance pay).

In short (for example), if an Air Force E-4 does not get promoted to E-5 by the time he/she has 8 years of military service, the member will be forced to separate. These rules are strictly enforced especially during times of downsizing and force reduction.

Air Force Active and Reserves High Year of Tenure

These guidelines apply to active personnel and members of the Reserves.

  • E-4 - 8 years
    E-5 - 15 years
    E-6 - 22 years
    E-7 - 26 years
    E-8 - 28 years
    E-9 - 30 years

Army Retention Control Point

Like the Air Force, these apply to active duty and Reserves members.

  • E-1 to E-3 - 5 years
    E-4 - 8 years
    E-4 (Promotable) - 10years
    E-5 - 14 years
    E-5 (Promotable) - 15 years
    E-6 - 20 years
    E-6 (Promotable) - 20 years
    E-7 - 24 years
    E-7 (Promotable) - 26 years
    E-8 - 30 years
    E-8 (Promotable) - 30 years
    E-9 - 30 years

The Army has also changed the maximum age an enlisted member can remain on active duty from 55 years to 62 years.

Navy High Year of Tenure

These guidelines apply to active-duty members:

  • E-1, E-2 - 4 years
    E-3 5 years
    E-4 - 8 years
    *E-5 - 14 years (20 years for Reserves)
    E-6 - 20 years
    E-7 - 24 years
    E-8 - 26 years
    E-9 - 30 years

And these guidelines apply to Navy Reserves members:

  • E-1, E-2 - 6 years
    E-3 - 10 years
    E-4 - 12 years
    E-5 - 20 years
    E-6 - 22 years
    E-7 - 24 years
    E-8 - 26 years
    E-9 - 30 years

Marine Corps Active Duty High Year of Tenure

  • E-4 - 8 years
    E-5 - 10 years
    E-6 - 20 years
    E-7 - 22 years
    E-8 - 27 years
    E-9 - 30 years

An E-5 who has been passed over twice for promotion to E-6 may be separated at the end of their current enlistment, even if they have less than 13 years of service. An E-6 who has been passed over twice for promotion to E-7 may be separated at the end of their current enlistment, even if they have less than 20 years of service.

An E-7 or E-8 may exceed 20 years of service only if they have not been passed over twice for promotion.

Marine Corps (Reserves) High Year of Tenure

  • E-4 - 8 years
    E-5 - 10 years
    E-6 - 20 years
    E-7 - 22 years
    E-8 - 27 years
    E-9 - 30 years

Coast Guard High Year of Tenure

  • E-1 / E-2 - Cannot reenlist
    E-3/E-4 - 10 years active Coast Guard service or 10 years active military service, whichever is greater.
    E-5 - 16 years
    E-6 - 20 years
    E-7 - 24 years
    E-8 - 26 years
    E-9 - 30 years

As with just about every standard and rule in the military, there are waivers available for a person seeking to fight the high year tenure workforce management rules and standards. A member seeking to submit a waiver should do so within 10 months of his/her HYT date and have a justifiable reason why that person should be kept in the military.

Usually, under-manning of your skill and experiences is good enough reason or the service member will be deployed at the time of your high year tenure date. Obviously, a waiver will need the immediate chain of command support and letters of recommendation.