About "Push Button" Advancement
In the '60's, '70's and '80's
A first enlistment in the Navy was for a total of 6 years.
Usual, it was 4 years of active duty followed by 2 years of
stand-by (non-drilling) reserve.
Naval Reservists usually served 2 years of active duty and 4 years
of drilling reserve duty. There were other programs of
varying amounts of active and stand-by or drilling reserve duty,
but the total commitment was still 6 years.
basic training, qualified sailors may qualify for a Class "A"
school for training in a specific rating (MOS). Upon
graduation from Class "A" school they are sent to the fleet, to
work in that rating, usually as an E-2 or E-3.
In some technical ratings there was a shortage of manpower and the
Navy offered advancement incentives to get more people into those
ratings. Basically, if a Class "A" school student in one
these ratings extended his active duty for the full 6 years, he
was given additionally schooling and upon graduation he was
automatically advanced to E-4. No tests, no nothin'. Thus the
tern, "Push Button." In some ratings (especially nuclear
ratings) the additional schooling resulted in automatic
advancement to E-5.
The problem is that these "Push Button" Petty Officers (NCOs)
may have the technical knowledge of their rating, but they have
little or no fleet experience and no leadership skills, yet they
are filing most of the billets. This meant that ship board
seamen, who had proven their qualification and were trying for
advancement in these rates had to score almost perfect test
scores in order to win the few remaining billets available.