The White House responded to an online petition Wednesday, voicing its support for a controversial move to strip sailors of their traditional job titles.
In late September, the Navy announced that its job titles, such as boatswain's mate, yeoman and master-at-arms, would be replaced with seaman, petty officer and chief.
The move was sparked by an initial study into whether job titles should be made gender-neutral following a Pentagon-wide decision to open all jobs to women. That initial Navy study led to a deeper on focused on improving advancement opportunities for sailors.
That prompted a petition to the White House resulting in more than 100,000 signatures. On Wednesday, the White House responded that the Navy decision presents benefits for sailors.
"Modernizing this system provides many benefits within the Navy, such as increased flexibility in training and assignments," the statement said. "It also affords our Sailors opportunities when transitioning to the civilian workforce by aligning their specialties with civilian occupations.
"Organizational changes that require a cultural shift can cause friction during transition periods, but the President has confidence in the decisions made by U.S. Navy leaders and agrees that the benefits in future years will outweigh growing pains in the next several months."
The Navy's move brings it more in line with other military services, in which a soldier, airman or Marine is referred to his rank, such as "sergeant," instead of his job title. But petition pointed out that the Navy was unique and the service was turning its back on a tradition that's been with the Navy since its inception.
"Being known by your job title was a sense of pride. A sign of accomplishment," the petition reads. "The Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations just senselessly erased this tradition. One only has to visit Navy social media pages to see the disgust and outrage of current and former personnel. One by one current leadership continues to erode the very things that set the Navy apart from the other services."