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High Year of Tenure

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An enlisted person cannot stay in the military forever. An enlisted person must be promoted by certain time-frames during their career, or they must separate from the service. This is known as the "High Year of Tenure" (HYT). (Note: The Army calls it "Retention Control Point).

However, 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 12 years of military service, the member will be forced to separate.

Air Force (active and reserves) HYT

    E-4 - 12 years
    E-5 - 20 years
    E-6 - 24 years
    E-7 - 26 years
    E-8 - 28 years
    E-9 - 30 years

Army (active and AGR) RCP, Effective Nov 08

    E-1 to E-3 - 3 years
    E-4 - 10 years
    E-4 (Promotable) - 15 years
    E-5 - 15 years
    E-5 (Promotable) - 20 years
    E-6 - 23 years
    E-6 (Promotable) - 26 years
    E-7 - 26 years
    E-7 (Promotable) - 29 years
    E-8 - 29 years
    E-8 (Promotable) - 32 years
    E-9 - 32 years

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

Navy (Active)

    E-4 - 10 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

Note: The Navy changed E-5 HYT from 20 years to 14 years, effective July 1, 2005. However, sailors with more than ten years of service as of July 1, 2005 may remain in the service until they are retirement eligible (20 years of service). For details, see NAVADMIN 056/05.

Navy (Reserves, effective Jan 2006):

    E-3 - 12 years
    E-4 - 14 years
    E-5 - 22 years
    E-6 - 24 years
    E-7 - 24 years
    E-8 - 26 years
    E-9 - 30 years

Navy (Reserves, effective Jan 2010):

    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) HYT

    E-4 - 8 years
    E-5 - 13 years
    E-6 - 20 years
    E-7 - 24 years
    E-8 - 26 years
    E-9 - 30 years

Note: 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) HYT

    E-3 - 10 years
    E-4 - 12 years
    E-5 - 20 years
    E-6 - 24 years
    E-7 - 26 years
    E-8 - 28 years
    E-9 - 30 years

Coast Guard (active and reserves) HYT

    E-1 - Cannot reenlist
    E-2 - 4 years
    E-3/E-4 - 7 years active Coast Guard service or 10 years active military service, whichever is greater.
    E-5 - 20 years
    E-6 - 22 years
    E-7 - 26 years
    E-8 - 28 years
    E-9 - 30 years

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