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An unrestricted line officer (shortened to URL officer) is a designator given to a commissioned officer of the line in the United States Navy, who is eligible for command at sea of the navy's warfighting combatant units such as warships, submarines, aviation squadrons and SEAL teams. They are also eligible to command the higher echelons of those units, such as destroyer and submarine squadrons, air wings and air groups, and special warfare groups.
At the flag officer level, URL officers may also command carrier strike groups, expeditionary strike groups, patrol and reconnaissance groups, task forces, and fleet and force commands. URL officers are also eligible to command shore installations, facilities and activities directly supporting the navy's warfare mission.
URL officers include officers from the Surface Warfare, Submarine Warfare, Naval Aviation, and Special Warfare communities, i.e., the Navy's combat communities. In this sense, all URL officers are considered warfare specialists and are designated as either Surface Warfare Officers, Submarine Warfare Officers, Naval Aviators, Naval Flight Officers, SEAL/Special Warfare Officers, or Special Operations Officers (primarily Diver or Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer/Diver).
A URL community previously known as General Unrestricted Line has been phased out and no longer accepting new entrants. Officers in this category were not warfare qualified, nor on track to be warfare qualified, and were typically assigned to administrative and support tasks ashore. General URL officers have been replaced by the expansion of the Restricted Line Officer (RL) community into their former skillsets, with most incumbents laterally transferring into the Restricted Line.
Differentiated from URL officers are those naval officers whose functions are considered combat support in nature and are designated as either restricted line (RL) officers or staff corps officers.
Examples of RL officers include Engineering Duty Officer, Aeronautical Engineering Duty Officer, Aircraft Maintenance Officer, Intelligence Officer, Cryptologic Warfare (formerly Information Warfare) Officer, Meteorology/Oceanography Officer, Public Affairs Officer, Human Resources Officer, and Foreign Area Officer among others.
Examples of Staff Corps officers include Supply Corps, Medical Corps, Dental Corps, Medical Service Corps, Nurse Corps, Civil Engineer Corps, Judge Advocate General's Corps and Chaplain Corps.
Some RL officers begin their careers as URL officers and transition to RL, the most common examples being Surface Warfare Officers and Submarine Warfare Officers who become Engineering Duty Officers and Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers who become Aeronautical Engineering Duty Officers. Still, other URL officers will transition into Staff Corps communities, most often the Medical Corps or the Judge Advocate General's Corps following completion of Navy-funded medical school or law school, while others move into other RL or Staff Corps fields. The remaining officers are directly commissioned as RL or Staff Corps. RL and Staff Corps officers are authorized to command ashore within their particular speciality, but are not eligible for combatant command at sea, which remains strictly within the purview of URL officers.
In contrast to the U.S. Navy's limited duty officers (LDO) and chief warrant officers (CWO), who are directly accessed from the senior enlisted grades (E-6 to E-9 and W-2 to W-5 for LDO; E-7 to E-9 for CWO), traditional unrestricted line officers are required to possess at least a bachelor's degree and complete some type of formal pre-commissioning accession program, such as:
Some senior URL officers in current service as naval aviators or naval flight officers were also commissioned via the since disestablished Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS), either under traditional AOCS or via its former subset Aviation Reserve Officer Candidate (AVROC) or Naval Aviation Cadet (NAVCAD) programs. AOCS was merged into the current Officer Candidate School in the late 1990s.
The United States Navy takes most of its traditions, customs and organizational structure from that of the Royal Navy of Great Britain. Based on the Royal Navy model, there were originally two kinds of officers on a naval ship of the line: the commanding officers and their lieutenants, who were "gentlemen" and commanded the ship; and the warrant officers, who were technical specialists who ran important tasks. In the nineteenth century, with the introduction of steam power, a third group of officers emerged, engineers, who ran the steam plant. As technology developed, the engineers were requesting more rights, including command. This system evolved in similar fashion in the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War and in the successor United States Navy into the nineteenth century. Eventually, this dispute led the Department of the Navy to abolish the differences between the groups, amalgamating them into Unrestricted Line Officers in 1899.This fact can lead to confusion with non-American naval personnel, lacking the division between the two groups. The Russian Navy is an example of one with a difference between Deck and Engineer officers.
A flight surgeon is a military medical officer practicing in the clinical field of aviation medicine. Although the term "flight surgery" is considered improper by purists, it may occasionally be encountered.
In the United States Navy, officers have various ranks. Equivalency between services is by pay grade. United States Navy commissioned officer ranks have two distinct sets of rank insignia: On dress uniform a series of stripes similar to Commonwealth naval ranks are worn; on service khaki, working uniforms, and special uniform situations, the rank insignia are identical to the equivalent rank in the US Marine Corps.
A naval flight officer (NFO) is a commissioned officer in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps who specializes in airborne weapons and sensor systems. NFOs are not pilots, but they may perform many "co-pilot" functions, depending on the type of aircraft. Until 1966, their duties were performed by both commissioned officer and senior enlisted naval aviation observers (NAO).
Insignias and badges of the United States Navy are military badges issued by the United States Department of the Navy to naval service members who achieve certain qualifications and accomplishments while serving on both active and reserve duty in the United States Navy. Most naval aviation insignia are also permitted for wear on uniforms of the United States Marine Corps.
In the United States Armed Forces, a line officer or officer of the line is a U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps commissioned officer or warrant officer who exercises general command authority and is eligible for operational command positions, as opposed to officers who normally exercise command authority only within a Navy Staff Corps. The term line officer is also used by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard to indicate that an officer is eligible for command of operational, viz., tactical or combat units. The term is not generally used by officers of the U.S. Army – the roughly corresponding Army terms are basic branch and special branch, qualified officers, although the concepts are not entirely synonymous, as some Army special branch officers are eligible to hold command outside their branch specialty.
A limited duty officer (LDO) is an officer in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps who was selected for commissioning based on skill and expertise. They are the primary manpower source for technically specific billets not best suited for traditional Unrestricted Line, Restricted Line, or Staff Corps career path officers. Per Title 10, U.S. Code, an LDO is a permanent commissioned officer appointed under section 5589 in a permanent grade above chief warrant officer, W-5, and designated for limited duty.
A restricted line officer is a designator given to a United States Navy and Navy Reserve line officer who is not eligible for Command at Sea. There are many different types and communities, including Engineering Duty Officers, Aerospace Engineering Duty Officers, Aerospace Maintenance Duty Officers, Naval Intelligence Officers, Cryptologic Warfare Officers, Information Operations Officers, Foreign Area Officers, Public Affairs Officers, Naval Oceanographers, Information Professionals, and Human Resources.
A naval aviator is a commissioned officer or warrant officer qualified as a manned aircraft pilot in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps. While they complete the same undergraduate flight training as Navy and Marine Corps manned aircraft pilots, and are awarded the same aviation breast insignia, a United States Coast Guard manned aircraft pilot is officially designated as a "Coast Guard aviator".
Commodore was an early title and later a rank in the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard and the Confederate States Navy. For over two centuries, the designation has been given varying levels of authority and formality.
The United States Navy's Officer Candidate School provides initial training for officers of the line and select operational staff corps communities in the United States Navy. Along with United States Naval Academy (USNA) and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), OCS is one of three principal sources of new commissioned naval officers.
In the United States Armed Forces, the ranks of warrant officer are rated as officers above all non-commissioned officers, candidates, cadets, and midshipmen, but subordinate to the lowest officer grade of O‑1. This application differs from the Commonwealth of Nations and other militaries, where warrant officers are the most senior of the other ranks, equivalent to the U.S. Armed Forces grades of E‑8 and E‑9.
A direct commission officer (DCO) is a United States uniformed officer who has received an appointed commission without the typical prerequisites for achieving a commission, such as attending a four-year service academy, a four-year or two-year college ROTC program, or one of the officer candidate school or officer training school programs, the latter OCS/OTS programs typically slightly over three months in length.
An engineering duty officer (EDO) is a restricted line officer in the United States Navy, involved with the design, acquisition, construction, repair, maintenance, conversion, overhaul and disposal of ships, submarines, aircraft carriers, and the systems installed aboard. As of August 1, 2016, there are approximately 835 engineering duty officers on active duty in the U.S. Navy, representing approximately 2 percent of its active-duty commissioned officers.
The US Navy had four programs for the training of naval aviators.
The United States Navy has nearly 500,000 personnel, approximately a quarter of whom are in ready reserve. Of those on active duty, more than eighty percent are enlisted sailors, and around fifteen percent are commissioned officers; the rest are midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy and midshipmen of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at over 180 universities around the country and officer candidates at the navy's Officer Candidate School.
An officer is a member of an armed forces or uniformed service who holds a position of authority.
In the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, captain is the senior-most commissioned officer rank below that of flag officer. The equivalent rank is colonel in the United States Army, Air Force, Space Force and Marine Corps.
The Gray Owl Award is presented to the naval flight officer (NFO) on continuous active duty in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps who has held that designation for the longest period of time.