U.S. NAVY LIMITED DUTY OFFICER SOFT EPAULETS

The Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program promotes enlisted Sailors to officer status, either as a Line Officer or Staff Corps officer. Line Officers can be either Unrestricted and have the ability to take command of combat units (ships, aircraft squadrons, etc.) and assume higher-echelon command posts controlling groups of those units (strike groups, task forces, etc.). Restricted Line Officers do not have the ability to take command of warfighting components but rather exercise command over a variety of Naval communities; examples include Information Warfare, Intelligence, Aerospace Engineering, Aviation Maintenance, Foreign Area, and Public Affairs, to name but a few.

Historically, there have been very few opening for Limited Duty Officers in the various Staff Corps, but two Staff Corps—Civil Engineering and Supply—do lend themselves to the benefits of the LDO program. This is because enlisted Sailors who have enough years in service to qualify for LDO status have acquired a fount of hands-on technical knowledge that is just as valuable as (or even more valuable than) the classroom education that most junior officers will have received when they are first commissioned.

With the approval of the LDO/CWO Officer Sustainability Initiative in 2010, some Limited Duty Officer positions were eliminated. For example, Photo LDOs, who were Restricted Line Officers in the Public Affairs community, began to be phased out in 2011, with completion of the process expected in 2015.

In The Limited Duty Officer and Chief Warrant Officer Professional Guidebook published in 2011, only three Staff Corps—Supply, Civil Engineering, and JAG—were represented by LDO programs. But the publication also revealed that the LDOs in the JAG Corps, or Law LDOs with an officer designator of 655x, were being phased out and that none had been assessed for the past several years. While the Staff Corps is handling the work, it is no doubt relying on Sailors in the Legalman rating, who have access to training that will qualify them as first-rate paralegals, legal clerks, and law-office managers.

The insignia for a Law LDO combines the JAG Corps device of a millrind with a quill pen.

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