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NEWS | Jan. 11, 2023

Hey! What’s that Warfare Pin?

By Command Navy Reserve Force Command Public Affairs

90% of global commerce is conducted by sea.

That fact is probably a familiar one; but did you know that over 2,300 of your fellow Reserve Sailors directly support global maritime commerce?

As Reserve Sailors, we all have our day jobs. For the Strategic Sealift Officer (SSO) community, that day job is as a licensed merchant mariner who sails on commercial cargo ships and is at sea delivering goods around the world. Global commerce is the SSO’s day job!

Merchant mariners are the workforce behind our maritime commerce. Maritime commerce and Naval Supremacy empower our country’s economy and project power and influence around the world. The SSO community is built to support those ideals. It is comprised of highly trained merchant mariners who are qualified to operate commercial cargo vessels and receive specialized training as Navy Reserve officers to mobilize in support of the country’s surge sealift fleet during sustained combat operations under Military Sealift Command (MSC).

Even though the community is part of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), these officers are required to maintain a higher level of readiness than the members of the general IRR population. When not in a mobilized status, the SSO’s primary role is to maintain warfighting readiness. To maintain these skills, SSOs (designator 1665) hold valid U.S. Coast Guard-issued Merchant Mariner Credentials (MMC) which allows them to operate and sail large cargo vessels around the world. They must complete a minimum of twelve (12) days of Active Duty for Training (ADT) per year, maintain a common access card (CAC), medical readiness, and recall information, security clearance, and have an active NMCI account. They regularly activate under short, medium and long term ADT to sharpen these skills and provide operational support.

To enable the quick recall of the SSO IRR community to missions, MSC and CNRFC have been executing mass mobilization exercises (MOBEX) since 2021; which included an SSO mobilization exercise (SSOEX) in December 2022. This was the second of two events to implement the same mobilization pathway for SSO IRR personnel as the Selected Reserve. They serve as a litmus test for implementing policies, processes, and practices that affect the mobilization of the IRR, writ large.

Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command (CNRFC/N14) is the SSO Virtual Navy Reserve Center (NRC) that provides administrative support and maintains SSO readiness requirements to mobilize to the MSC mission. SSOs also attain support from local NRCs to administer functions that require a personal presence. Support includes medical and dental support, immunizations, mobilization activation/deactivation support, official photos, and in-person training. CNRFC N14, MSC and the local NRC coordinate on a wide range of issues regarding SSO support. Teamwork between all parties is crucial for the community’s warfighting readiness and to ensure seamless mobilizations. has an SSO Tool Kit:

Here, SSOs can find instructions, guidance, and contact information that support them during their Navy Reserve career. NRCs can find a list of their responsibilities to assigned SSOs.

The Strategic Sealift Officer Community is different than most Reserve communities and presents unique challenges. The partnerships, trust, and coordination between SSO and NRC, MSC and CNRFC, enable this warfighting readiness every day. Our SSOs will be ready on day one to deliver the goods that sustain our forces and ensure the success wherever operations take place.