Call me a military personnel policy wonk, but I think this is a great idea: Letting officers and sailors take a mid-career sabbatical.
I especially like the way the program is structured, providing medical benefits while the service member is taking time off. Also, by aiming for high performers, the Navy is likely to get people who are going to do things like move to Cairo to learn Arabic. When they return to active duty, they are likely to bring new energy and skills with them. Also, this might be a way of keeping people who otherwise would just leave to pursue their dreams or pressing needs. In the Army, this could be a way of say, helping a wife after years of deployments by being a stay-at-home dad for three years while the wife gets an college degree.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.