When the world realized that Generation X had arrived in the workplace in the 1980s, it seemed as if every other month there was another Gen-X magazine cover or major story. Even the Navy was not immune, with studies and theses at the Naval Postgraduate School, and Navy Times and Proceedings publishing an unprecedented number of articles about junior-officer retention, the rise of the Xers, and how Navy leadership needed to rethink operations and policies to retain this new generation.
By the time Gen X went to sea, the U.S. Navy over the course of its history already had seen nine generational changes. What made the rise of Gen X different? By using the generational attributes from William Strauss’ and Neil Howe’s books Generations and The Fourth Turning, one can analyze the four Navy generations that have served during and since World War II. Those attributes, when contrasted with the Navy’s own health and culture, will illustrate why the rise of Navy Generation X was significant, different—and likely to not be repeated.