Assignment to a support squadron should not squash a naval aviator's chance to make flag rank, but the data say that is exactly what is happening.
There is a peculiar phenomenon in the makeup of the leadership of naval aviation. Fifty of the 68 aviation flag officers come from the fighter and attack communities. This translates to almost 75% representation from communities that make up only 27% of naval aviation as a whole. When only carrier-based aviation is viewed, the number is more skewed—90% of the flag officers come from the fighter and attack communities (referred to as tactical air, or TacAir). Table I details the distribution by community and rank. How did such disproportionate percentages come about, and why do they persist? More important, are the most qualified officers being chosen to lead us in the conflicts of the future?